Resource Recovery

Turning Waste into Valuable Goods

In water and wastewater treatment, the goal is to remove minerals, salts, and pollutants to produce clean water that is suitable for drinking, agriculture, industrial applications, or to return to the environment. The brine that gets leftover needs to be safely disposed of, sometimes at a significant cost.

But that brine, which is often seen as a waste product, can contain valuable and sometimes rare metals, salts, and minerals that are highly sought after in other industries, including lithium-ion battery manufacturing, agriculture, textiles, construction, and many more, creating a circular economy. In some cases, the mineral byproducts of treating water can be more valuable than the produced freshwater itself. The types of resources that can be recovered from wastewater treatment are extensive, and their uses are nearly endless. Even manure from animal farming can be turned into biogas and fertilizer, while recovering water suitable for environmental discharge.

Industry Recoverable Resources
Seawater reverse osmosis desalination
  • Magnesium
  • Table salt
  • Potassium
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Bromine
Chemical production
  • Calcium chloride
  • Nutrients/fertilizer
  • Enzymes
Manure and food waste
  • Biogas energy
  • Nutrients/fertilizer
CTX and steel
  • Nickel
  • Trace metals
  • Phenols
  • Dye salts
Lithium batteries
  • Lithium
  • Nutrients/fertilizer
  • Cobalt
  • Nickel

While resource recovery (also known as brine mining, nutrient recovery, resource extraction, and waste valorization) has been utilized in some form for decades, in recent years there has been a surge of interest and investment in maximizing the potential of this untapped resource: our waste.

Maximize Efficiency and Minimize Emissions with the PX

Reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology has been used to recover all of the resources listed above, and utilizing energy recovery devices (ERDs) within RO systems significantly reduces the energy consumption and costs required to treat wastewater and extract these valuable minerals. Some of our customers have already utilized separation technology to successfully extract and commercialize minerals from their waste stream, while also further reducing project emissions for ESG benefits, rebates, and potential carbon credits.


Learn more about maximizing efficiency in our Sinochem Case Study

Energy Recovery’s PX® Pressure Exchanger® line of low, high, and ultra high-pressure solutions can dramatically reduce the energy costs, consumption, and emissions of membrane-based systems, delivering significant OPEX savings as well as CAPEX savings by minimizing the need for other system components. Our devices cover a wide range of pressures and flow rates to accommodate any size plant. Systems using the PX are able to reduce energy consumption by as much as 60%, and significantly reduce the size and cost of other system components.

The PX has a simple design with just one moving part and no controls or electronics to boost reliability, making them easy to install and scale. They require no scheduled maintenance to maximize facility uptime and are effective under a wide range of operating conditions, providing efficiency and savings even as flow rate, pressure, or salinity levels change.

Learn more in our webinar: Resource Recovery: Minimize Energy Use For Brine Mining, Nutrient Valorization, and Metals Recovery.