(19)
(11)EP 3 519 360 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
12.08.2020 Bulletin 2020/33

(21)Application number: 17787055.7

(22)Date of filing:  13.09.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
C01D 7/10(2006.01)
C01F 7/02(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2017/051255
(87)International publication number:
WO 2018/063797 (05.04.2018 Gazette  2018/14)

(54)

PROCESS FOR SILICA REMOVAL FROM SODIUM BICARBONATE PRODUCTION WASTEWATER

VERFAHREN ZUR ENTFERNUNG VON KIESELSÄURE AUS NATRIUMBIKARBONAT-PRODUKTIONSABWÄSSERN

PROCÉDÉ D'ÉLIMINATION DE SILICE À PARTIR D'EAUX USÉES DE PRODUCTION DE BICARBONATE DE SODIUM


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 30.09.2016 US 201662402247 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
07.08.2019 Bulletin 2019/32

(73)Proprietor: Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies Support
94417 Saint-Maurice (FR)

(72)Inventors:
  • MACK, Bernard Roy
    Natick Massachusetts 01760 (US)
  • BANERJEE, Kashi
    CARNEGIE, PA 15106 (US)

(74)Representative: Vidon Brevets & Stratégie 
16B, rue de Jouanet BP 90333
35703 Rennes Cedex 7
35703 Rennes Cedex 7 (FR)


(56)References cited: : 
DE-B3-102012 003 487
US-A- 3 870 780
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION



    [0001] This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) from the following U.S. provisional application: Application Serial No. 62/402247 filed on September 30, 2016.

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION



    [0002] The present invention relates to processes for producing sodium bicarbonate crystals.

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



    [0003] DE102012003487 B3, for example, discloses a process for producing sodium bicarbonate crystals from sodium carbonate from trona. The present invention, in one embodiment, relates to a method for producing sodium bicarbonate crystals. Raw sodium carbonate containing silica is subjected to a pre-treatment process. The pre-treatment process produces a sodium carbonate solution that is then subjected to a sodium bicarbonate crystallization process. In the sodium bicarbonate crystallization process, a concentrate is produced and the concentrate includes sodium bicarbonate crystals. The concentrate, along with the sodium bicarbonate crystals, is separated, yielding a mother liquor. The mother liquor is recycled and mixed with the sodium carbonate either during pre-treatment or upstream from pre-treatment. However, before the mother liquor is mixed with the sodium carbonate, silica is removed from the mother liquor. In one embodiment, this is achieved by mixing an aluminum salt with the mother liquor. This precipitates hydrous aluminum oxide. Silica in the mother liquor is adsorbed onto the hydrous aluminum oxide. Hydrous aluminum oxide with adsorbed silica is removed from the mother liquor. Thereafter, the treated mother liquor is appropriately mixed with the sodium carbonate.

    [0004] In one embodiment, the present disclosure describes a further process for producing sodium bicarbonate crystals. The process entails mixing sodium carbonate containing silica and derived from TRONA ore with a treated mother liquor produced in a downstream process to form a sodium carbonate solution. The sodium carbonate solution is filtered to form or produce a sodium carbonate filtrate. Sodium bicarbonate crystals are formed in the sodium carbonate filtrate. After forming the sodium bicarbonate crystals, the sodium carbonate filtrate having the sodium bicarbonate crystals therein is subjected to a solids-liquid separation process which produces a concentrate that contains the sodium bicarbonate crystals and a mother liquor containing silica. The mother liquor containing silica is directed to a reactor. In the reactor, an aluminum salt is mixed with the mother liquor. This precipitates hydrous aluminum oxide and the silica in the mother liquor is adsorbed onto the hydrous aluminum oxide. The process further includes separating the hydrous aluminum oxide with the adsorbed silica from the mother liquor. This forms the treated mother liquor. It is the treated mother liquor that is mixed with the sodium carbonate to form the sodium carbonate solution.

    [0005] Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent and obvious from a study of the following description and the accompanying drawings which are merely illustrative of such invention.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0006] Figure 1 is a schematic illustration of the process of the present invention for producing sodium bicarbonate crystals.

    DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



    [0007] The present invention relates to a process for producing sodium bicarbonate crystals from raw sodium carbonate. One exemplary process is illustrated in Figure 1.

    [0008] The process begins with a source of sodium carbonate, sometimes referred to as soda ash. In this exemplary embodiment, the sodium carbonate is derived from TRONA ore. TRONA ore is a naturally occurring mineral that is chemically known as sodium sesquicarbonate (Na2CO3•NaHCO3•2H2O). The sodium carbonate derived from TRONA ore can be pretreated in a number of ways, depending on the condition of the sodium carbonate and/or the application. Typically the TRONA ore is refined into a slurry of sodium sesquicarbonate, which is an intermediate sodium carbonate product that typically contains both sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. Thus, in this example, the raw sodium carbonate, referred to in Figure 1, is sodium sesquicarbonate which will be referred to herein as raw sodium carbonate.

    [0009] With particular reference to Figure 1, the raw sodium carbonate is directed to a dissolver 12. In the dissolver 12, the raw sodium carbonate is mixed with an effluent from a side stream settler 26. As will be discussed subsequently herein, the effluent from the settler 26 is a treated mother liquor that is produced in a downstream process. In any event, the mixing of the effluent from the settler 26 with the raw sodium carbonate produces a sodium carbonate solution. In certain applications, it may be appropriate to utilize a feedwater in addition to the effluent from the settler 26. That is, in some cases it may be appropriate to mix the raw sodium carbonate in the dissolver with both the treated mother liquor from settler 26, as well as another feedwater. In any event, in one embodiment, the sodium carbonate is dissolved at a temperature of approximately 95°C and this results in a solution close to saturation of 30% sodium carbonate by wt. In order to achieve the 95°C operating temperature in the dissolver 12, the mother liquor can be appropriately heated before being mixed with the raw sodium carbonate in the dissolver 12.

    [0010] The sodium carbonate solution produced by the dissolver 12 is, in one embodiment, subjected to one or more filtration processes. Various filtration processes can be employed. In the embodiment illustrated in Figure 1, the sodium carbonate solution is subjected to a membrane separation process. This will effectively remove suspended solids from the sodium carbonate solution. In one example, the membrane separation unit may comprise a ceramic membrane system 14, such as illustrated in Figure 1. The membrane separation unit or the ceramic membrane system 14 produces a filtrate or permeate, as well as a reject, which in the case of Figure 1 is referred to as waste sludge.

    [0011] In some cases, additional filtration may be desirable. In the Figure 1 embodiment, the filtrate from the ceramic membrane system 14 is directed to a cartridge filter 16 where the filtrate is further filtered to remove fine suspended solids. The filtrate or effluent from the cartridge filter 16 is still referred to as a sodium carbonate solution.

    [0012] The sodium carbonate solution is then subjected to a process where at least portions of the sodium carbonate are converted to sodium bicarbonate crystals. This occurs in what is referred to in Figure 1 as a crystallizer 18. Crystallizer 18 functions to produce the sodium bicarbonate crystals. In one embodiment, the crystallizer 18 comprises a carbonating tower. Here, the saturated sodium carbonate solution moves downwardly through the carbonation tower. As the sodium carbonate solution moves downwardly through the tower, the solution cools and reacts with carbon dioxide that is injected into the tower. This forms sodium bicarbonate crystals in the solution. In particular, the carbon dioxide is provided at ambient temperature or lower such that the sodium carbonate reacts with the carbon dioxide and water to form the sodium bicarbonate crystals and at the same time the temperature is reduced to approximately 70°C. Since sodium bicarbonate has a solubility much less than sodium carbonate (15% by wt. at 70°C), crystals of sodium bicarbonate are formed.

    [0013] Downstream of the crystallizer 18, the effluent from the carbonating process is subjected to one or more clarification or filtering processes where the sodium bicarbonate crystals are removed from the solution. Various clarification or filtration processes can be used. In the end, a concentrate is produced and the concentrate includes the sodium bicarbonate crystals. Also, such a clarification or filtration process produces a mother liquor. Since the raw sodium carbonate includes silica, it follows that the mother liquor will also include silica.

    [0014] In the embodiment illustrated in Figure 1, the effluent from the crystallizer 18 (or the effluent from the carbonating tower) is directed to a thickener 20. The thickener 20 produces a concentrate that includes the sodium bicarbonate crystals and the concentrate is directed to a centrifuge 22. In addition to the thickener 20 producing the concentrate, the thickener 20 also produces a mother liquor that is directed into line 21. Centrifuge 22 separates the wet sodium bicarbonate crystals from the concentrate. The wet sodium bicarbonate crystals are discharged via line 23 and subsequently dried. Centrifuge 22 discharges the concentrate, after the sodium bicarbonate crystals have been separated, and directs the concentrate from the centrifuge via line 25. As seen in Figure 1, the mother liquor in line 21 is mixed with the concentrate in line 25. The combined liquid is directed into line 27 and the liquid therein is still referred to as a mother liquor or a silica-rich weak liquor. The mother liquor in line 27 is directed into a reactor 24 that is referred to as an aluminum precipitation reactor.

    [0015] As Figure 1 illustrates, the mother liquor in line 27 is eventually recycled to the dissolver 12 where it is used to saturate the raw sodium carbonate before the sodium bicarbonate crystals are produced. In order to protect the sodium bicarbonate product from unwanted precipitation of silica and to protect downstream equipment from fouling, it is desirable to remove the silica from the mother liquor in line 27 prior to the mother liquor being introduced into the mainstream. The process for removing silica from the mother liquor begins with reactor 24. An aluminum salt, such as sodium aluminate, polyaluminum chloride, or aluminum chlorohydrate, is mixed with the mother liquor in reactor 24. The silica removal action can be performed in a high speed mixed reactor, such as a reactor that is manufactured and sold by Veolia Water and referred to as a TURBOMIX™ reactor. In the alternative, a continuous flow stirred reactor can also be employed for mixing the aluminum salt with the mother liquor in reactor 24. In one embodiment, it is preferable to maintain the pH in the reactor 24 at approximately 7.5 to approximately 9.0.

    [0016] Under this process condition, hydrous aluminum oxide will be precipitated [equation 1] which has coagulating and adsorptive properties.

            Al3+ + 3OH- = Al(OH)3     (1)

    Depending on the desired percent removal of silica, the mass ratio of aluminum to silica is in the range between 1:1 and 4:1. The precipitated hydrous aluminum oxide solids can be separated from the mother liquor in a Veolia Water proprietary high rate settling device (ACTIFLO™ or MULTIFLO™), conventional clarifier including a lamella separator, or in any filtration device.

    [0017] After the mother liquor 27 has been mixed with the aluminum salt in the reactor 24, the mother liquor, along with the hydrous aluminum oxide having the adsorbed silica thereon, is pumped to a settler 26. This essentially entails a clarification step where the precipitated hydrous aluminum oxide, along with the adsorbed silica, are allowed to settle in the settler 26 and are separated from the mother liquor. The resulting mother liquor is directed from the settler 26 to the dissolver 12 where it is mixed with the raw sodium carbonate. The effluent or mother liquor from settler 26 is referred to herein as treated mother liquor. The term "treated mother liquor" means a mother liquor that at one point contains silica and which has been treated with an aluminum salt to precipitate hydrous aluminum oxide with adsorbed silica thereon and where hydrous aluminum oxide and adsorbed silica has been removed. As indicated in Figure 1, the excess aluminum can be removed by adsorption onto powdered activated carbon used to remove organic compounds in the ceramic membrane unit along with the other insoluble impurities in the soda ash. As indicated in Figure 1, the powdered activated carbon can be added at the inlet of the ceramic membrane system 14 or at a point between the dissolver 12 and the ceramic membrane system.

    [0018] There are many advantages to the process described above and shown in Figure 1. The hydrous aluminum oxide has a high adsorption capacity for silica and hence provides an efficient process for removing silica from the mother liquor. Further, the hydrous aluminum oxide functions as a coagulant which promotes efficient settling in the settler 26. In addition, the process for treating the mother liquor does not require a two-stage pH adjustment. One reaction tank for precipitating silica is sufficient. Aluminum salts are highly soluble in water. The dissolution rate of aluminum ions in water is very fast. Consequently, hydrous aluminum oxide precipitation kinetics is relatively fast. Further in the process, no additional heating energy is required to increase the temperature of the water. Aluminum salts, compared to other chemicals such as magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate, are less expensive. Finally, hydrous aluminum oxide precipitates at neutral pH conditions. Consequently, little or no pH adjustment is required for silica removal reaction.

    [0019] The present invention may, of course, be carried out in other specific ways than those herein set forth without departing from the scope and the essential characteristics of the invention. The present embodiments are therefore to be construed in all aspects as illustrative and not restrictive and all changes coming within the meaning and equivalency range of the appended claims are intended to be embraced therein.


    Claims

    1. A process for producing sodium bicarbonate crystals from sodium carbonate containing silica, the process comprising:

    mixing a treated mother liquor from a downstream process with the sodium carbonate to form a sodium carbonate solution;

    crystallizing the sodium carbonate solution by directing the sodium carbonate solution through a carbonating tower and injecting CO2 into the carbonating tower to form sodium bicarbonate crystals;

    clarifying the sodium carbonate solution to produce a concentrate having the sodium bicarbonate crystals and a mother liquor containing silica;

    directing the mother liquor to a reactor;

    mixing an aluminum salt with the mother liquor;

    precipitating hydrous aluminum oxide in the mother liquor;

    adsorbing silica onto the hydrous aluminum oxide in the mother liquor; and

    separating the hydrous aluminum oxide having the adsorbed silica from the mother liquor to form the treated mother liquor that is mixed with the sodium carbonate to form the sodium carbonate solution.


     
    2. The process of claim 1 further including filtering the sodium carbonate solution before crystallizing the sodium carbonate solution to form the sodium bicarbonate crystals.
     
    3. The process of claim 1, including prior to forming the sodium bicarbonate crystals, filtering the sodium carbonate solution in a membrane separation unit which produces a filtreate and a reject stream.
     
    4. The process of claim 1 wherein, prior to forming the sodium bicarbonate crystals, directing the sodium carbonate solution through a ceramic membrane and removing suspended solids from the sodium carbonate solution and wherein the ceramic membrane produces a permeate and a reject.
     
    5. The process of claim 1 including directing the sodium carbonate to a dissolver and directing the treated mother liquor to the dissolver and mixing the treated mother liquor with the sodium carbonate in the dissolver to dissolve the sodium carbonate so as to form the sodium carbonate solution.
     
    6. The process of claim 1 further including directing the concentrate having the sodium bicarbonate crystals to a centrifuge and separating the sodium bicarbonate crystals from the concentrate and thereafter mixing the concentrate with the mother liquor.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verfahren zur Herstellung von Natriumbikarbonatkristallen aus Natriumkarbonat, enthaltend Silica, wobei das Verfahren aufweist:

    Mischen einer behandelten Mutterlauge aus einem nachgelagerten Verfahren mit dem Natriumkarbonat, um eine Natriumkarbonatlösung zu bilden;

    Kristallisieren der Natriumkarbonatlösung durch Leiten der Natriumkarbonatlösung durch einen Karbonisierungsturm und injizieren von CO2 in den Karbonisierungsturm, um Natriumbikarbonatkristalle zu bilden;

    Klären der Natriumkarbonatlösung zur Herstellung eines Konzentrates, welches die Natriumbikarbonatkristalle und eine Mutterlauge, die Silica enthält, aufweist;

    Leiten der Mutterlauge zu einem Reaktor;

    Mischen eines Aluminiumsalzes mit der Mutterlauge;

    Ausfällen von wasserhaltigem Aluminiumoxid in der Mutterlauge;

    Adsorbieren von Silica auf das wasserhaltige Aluminiumoxid in der Mutterlage; und

    Abtrennen des wasserhaltigen Aluminiumoxids mit dem absorbierten Silica von der Mutterlauge, um die behandelte Mutterlauge auszubilden, welche mit dem Natriumkarbonat gemischt wird, um die Natriumkarbonatlösung auszubilden.


     
    2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, weiterhin enthaltend Filtrieren der Natriumkarbonatlösung vor dem Kristallisieren der Natriumkarbonatlösung zur Bildung der Natriumbikarbonatkristalle.
     
    3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, enthaltend vor dem Ausbilden der Natriumbikarbonatkristalle, Filtern der Natriumkarbonatlösung in einer Membrantrenneinheit, welche einen Filtrat- und einen Ausschussstrom produziert.
     
    4. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei vor dem Ausbilden der Natriumbikarbonatkristalle die Natriumkarbonatlösung durch eine Keramikmembran geleitet wird und die suspendierten Feststoffe aus der Natriumkarbonatlösung entfernt werden, und wobei die Keramikmembran ein Permeat und einen Ausschuss produziert.
     
    5. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, enthaltend Leiten des Natriumkarbonats in einen Dissolver und Leiten der behandelten Mutterlauge zu dem Dissolver und Mischen der behandelten Mutterlauge mit dem Natriumkarbonat in dem Dissolver, um das Natriumkarbonat so aufzulösen, dass eine Natriumkarbonatlösung ausgebildet wird.
     
    6. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, weiterhin einschließend Leiten des Konzentrates aufweisend die Natriumbikarbonatkristalle zu einer Zentrifuge und Separieren der Natriumbikarbonatkristalle von dem Konzentrat und anschließend Mischen des Konzentrates mit der Mutterlauge.
     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé de production de cristaux de bicarbonate de sodium à partir d'un carbonate de sodium contenant de la silice, le procédé comprenant :

    le mélange d'une liqueur mère traitée provenant d'un procédé en aval avec le carbonate de sodium pour former une solution de carbonate de sodium ;

    la cristallisation de la solution de carbonate de sodium par l'envoi de la solution de carbonate de sodium à travers une tour de carbonatation et l'injection de CO2 dans la tour de carbonatation pour former des cristaux de bicarbonate de sodium ;

    la clarification de la solution de carbonate de sodium pour produire un concentré ayant les cristaux de bicarbonate de sodium et une liqueur mère contenant de la silice ;

    l'envoi de la liqueur mère vers un réacteur ;

    le mélange d'un sel d'aluminium avec la liqueur mère ;

    la précipitation d'oxyde d'aluminium hydraté dans la liqueur mère ;

    l'adsorption de silice sur l'oxyde d'aluminium hydraté dans la liqueur mère ; et

    la séparation de l'oxyde d'aluminium hydraté ayant la silice adsorbée à partir de la liqueur mère pour former la liqueur mère traitée qui est mélangée avec le carbonate de sodium pour former la solution de carbonate de sodium.


     
    2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre la filtration de la solution de carbonate de sodium avant la cristallisation de la solution de carbonate de sodium pour former les cristaux de bicarbonate de sodium.
     
    3. Procédé selon la revendication 1, comprenant, avant la formation des cristaux de bicarbonate de sodium, la filtration de la solution de carbonate de sodium dans une unité de séparation à membrane qui produit un filtrat et un courant de rebut.
     
    4. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel, avant la formation des cristaux de bicarbonate de sodium, l'envoi de la solution de carbonate de sodium à travers une membrane en céramique et l'élimination des solides en suspension à partir de la solution de carbonate de sodium et dans lequel la membrane en céramique produit un perméat et un rebut.
     
    5. Procédé selon la revendication 1, comprenant l'envoi du carbonate de sodium vers un dissolveur et l'envoi de la liqueur mère traitée vers le dissolveur et le mélange de la liqueur mère traitée avec le carbonate de sodium dans le dissolveur pour dissoudre le carbonate de sodium afin de former la solution de carbonate de sodium.
     
    6. Procédé selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre l'envoi du concentré ayant les cristaux de bicarbonate de sodium vers une centrifugeuse et la séparation des cristaux de bicarbonate de sodium à partir du concentré et ensuite le mélange du concentré avec la liqueur mère.
     




    Drawing








    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description