Recovery of minerals and metals from geothermal fluids

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Conference Paper: Recovery of minerals and metals from geothermal fluids

Geothermal fluids are potentially significant sources of valuable minerals and metals.These fluids are water that is heated by the natural heat flow from the depths of the earth.Hotter fluids, typically with temperatures greater than 120°C, are used to generateelectricity. Lower temperature fluids are directly used to supply thermal energy toapplications such as agriculture, aquaculture and space heating. The geothermal watershave had intimate and lengthy contact with the layers of the earth's crust that they flowthrough, resulting in dissolution of minerals and metals from the rocks, and solution intothe hot water. These aqueous solutions can be processed to recover minerals and metals.Potential products include silica, zinc, lithium, and other materials. Recovery of mineralsand metals from geothermal fluids can be viewed as 'solution mining by nature',followed by application of established or new hydrometallurgical techniques for isolationand purification. This paper discusses the opportunities, the processes, the challenges,the current status, the economics and the potential for recovery of minerals and metalsfrom geothermal fluids.

W. L. Bourcier, M. Lin and G. Nix

2003 SME Annual Meeting; Cincinnati, Ohio; 2003/02/24

U.S. Department of Energy, 2003

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W. L. Bourcier, M. Lin, G. Nix. 2003. Recovery of minerals and metals from geothermal fluids. In: 2003 SME Annual Meeting. 2003 SME Annual Meeting; 2003/02/24; Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati, Ohio: U.S. Department of Energy; p. 19