An overview of brine management: Emerging desalination technologies, life cycle assessment, and metal recovery methodologies
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This study examines which management methods are the most recent and advanced in managing rejected brine generated from desalination plants. It also provides up-to-date information regarding the most adequate technologies that generate a minimum quantity of rejected brine via the use of minimization techniques and analyzes the method of direct disposal that has lately received noticeable improvements. It further discusses the reuse of discarded brine to recover valuable goods and sequestration of carbon dioxide. Sustainability is an important parameter that needs consideration to achieve uninterrupted operation of the discarded brine management to achieve the least environmental, social, and economic aftermath. To properly deal with any environmental issues related to brine disposal, different methods are implemented so that, in the end, higher water recovery is achievable from the desalination processes, namely brine minimization and rejection technologies (pressure retarded osmosis, microbial desalination cell technology), membrane-based technologies (vibratory shear enhanced processing, forward osmosis, electrodialysis, electrodialysis reverse, and electrodialysis metathesis, pervaporation method, thermal-based technologies (wind-aided intensified evaporation, brine concentrators, ohmic evaporator, membrane distillation, multi-stage flash distillation. This review also critically examined the two conventional approaches commonly used in life cycle assessment (LCA), when evaluating the ecotoxic effect of discarded brine. It intends to discuss the currently available methods and propose an improved method for evaluating the toxicity potential of brine on the aquatic ecosystem originated from seawater desalination plants. The Group-by-Group method takes into consideration the demerits of the two methods of the traditional method of LCA or chemical-specific approach as it provides a more holistic coverage for complicated brine to be disposed of. Recently, attention has been focused on recovering valuable metals from the discharged concentrated brine waste. Certainly, attaining marketable products from the discharged concentrated brine would offer an economic benefit and reducing the whole desalination costs. Ion imprinting polymers have potential applications in metal recovery from brine. Finding selective, more efficient, and less expensive imprinted polymers for extraction/pre-concentration of valuable ions is a vital and challenging task. Lastly, the brine should be seen as a resource and not as a waste to attain sustainability in its management approaches. Hybrid processes would be highly recommended to get the absolute transformation of the discarded brine from desalination processes to more valuable constituents.