Geothermal brines contain concentrated amounts of metals and dissolved salts. The presence of these impurities, combined with the necessity to reduce brine temperature in order for traditional filtration to occur, presents a large barrier known as scaling that severely reduces flow and heat transfer of geothermal heat exchangers. This in turn negatively impacts the long-term operating performance, and in many cases, the economic viability of these systems. Geothermal brines are known to contain lithium, magnesium and other minerals and metals including gold.
After an initial period of research and development, MGX and engineering partner PurLucid have developed a proprietary, low energy design process that removes these scale-forming ions and dissolved salts while not requiring a reduction in brine temperatures for filtration to occur. This process utilises PurLucid’s existing patented replaceable membrane skin layers (RSL) filtration system, originally developed by David Bromley Engineering. This creates highly charged pore spaces to force dissolved ions into colloidal particles, simultaneously filtered down to 0.01 microns.
The RSL is designed specifically to foul and is removed and replaced in situ, resulting in 100 percent flux rate recovery. The ultrafiltration can then be followed by a membrane distillation system in projects where heat is available. The matrix is composed of materials capable of operating at up to 700 degrees Celsius. Geothermal temperatures rarely exceed 250 degrees Celsius.
“We believe in investing in technology and innovative processes that disrupt how the energy industry thinks and operates” said MGX President and CEO Jared Lazerson. “Our newest technological advancement offers yet another first-mover opportunity into a large and often stagnant sector hungry for new ideas.”
The new technology also represents an environmentally friendly alternative for geothermal brine disposition, which is largely limited to non-treated reinjection. Similar to MGX’s existing wastewater treatment and rapid petrolithium recovery units, MGX and PurLucid are conducting engineering studies to fabricate treatment systems capable of being integrated into existing geothermal infrastructure or incorporated as standalone systems for mineral and metals extraction.
MGX currently owns a 34 percent interest in Purlucid and has the right to acquire 100 percent through successive future investments. The company owns the global rights to the minerals extraction technology jointly developed.