Bromine is used in many technologies in order to ensure the safety and efficacy of various energy processes

The use of bromine in the energy industry has become particularly notable in the emergence of new technologies. Technologies such as electric-vehicle batteries, wind turbines and coal power plants amongst others, use bromine in order to ensure the efficacy of energy processes.

Increasing global energy demand presents huge challenges. Bromine is used in the following energy applications, which in the long run have the ability to secure an affordable energy supply for our future.

oil-icon   Oil Drilling Fluids

Bromine used in clear brines increases both the efficiency and productivity of oil and gas wells. Oil and gas are hydrocarbons that are stuck in porous stone. In order to access these hydrocarbons, a hole needs to be drilled into the area in which they are held, called the pay zone. The drilling requires a specific gravity needed to compensate the pressure in order to avoid closing the pores of the stone whilst maintaining permeability. Due to its weight, clear brine fluid is able to compensate this gravity.

The fluids have significant productivity advantages in comparison to other substances, factors such as its weight, its thermal and chemical stability and its lubricating ability aid the extraction of oil and gas and help preserve the costly equipment used in the process.

icon-zinc Zinc-Bromine Battery

The ability to store electrical energy offers a valuable solution to energy efficient electricity systems. Batteries allow electrical systems to function without the need for a continuous connection to the grid.

The zinc–bromine flow battery is a type of hybrid flow battery fuelled by the reaction between zinc and bromide. The range of applications where zinc bromide energy storage solutions can achieve energy efficiency and environmental benefits is vast. The battery can be used in stationary storage applications such as in energy storage systems as part of a smart grid for smart cities and mobile applications, such as electric vehicles.

A zinc-bromine battery is formed of two tanks, of which both store a solution of zinc bromine. When the battery is charged, the solutions (electrolytes) are pumped through a reactor stack and back into the tank so that one contains the electrolyte for the positive electrode reactions and the other for the negative. The zinc-bromine battery acts as an electroplating machine1, as the metallic zinc is plated from the solution onto the negative electrode surfaces in the cell stacks. On discharge the reverse process occurs.

One of the distinct advantages of flow batteries is that they can be recharged rapidly by replacing the electrolyte which is stored outside the cell. These rechargeable batteries can be left fully discharged indefinitely, without damage. The zinc–bromine flow battery technology is highly carbon efficient during its entire life cycle. Overall, zinc-bromine batteries offer the cheapest method of energy storage and electricity production. Find out more!

1. Process that uses electric current to reduce dissolved metal cations so that they form a coherent metal coating on an electrode

mercury-icon   Mercury Emission Reduction

The use of bromine based technology in coal and power plant configurations can reduce mercury emissions by an astonishing 90%, identifying it as the most effective and economical form of mercury emission reduction.

Coal burning power plants are a large source of mercury pollution in the environment, and therefore require the aid of bromine technologies. Bromine containing compounds minimise mercury emissions by oxidising the mercury that is present in coal. The oxidised mercury is then far easily captured by emission control equipment.

wind-icon Wind Turbines

The inhibitory properties of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) make them applicable for usage in a variety of different products. The bromine-based fire safety solutions ensure that the constructions are fire resistant. BFRs interfere with the chemical process, which occurs within the flame itself. This eventually reduces the heat that is generated and can either slow down or even prevent the burning process.

The majority of turbine fires are started by lightning, other reasons include mechanical failures or electrical malfunctions. These fires can be fuelled by up to 200 gallons of hydraulic fluid and lubricants in the nacelle, which itself is constructed from highly-flammable resin and glass fibre. BFRs are therefore used in wind turbines to ensure that the constructions are fire safe.

The drive to a less carbon-intensive world has seen an expansion of the renewable energy sector, with wind power being at the forefront of this. The use of BFRs guarantees that wind turbines can keep offering a positive contribution to the environment while being as safe as possible.

cooling-water   Cooling water systems

With a growing need to optimise existing water resources, industries have to ensure water usage is executed in a sustainable way. Water impurities can cause serious threats to the safety and effectiveness of industrial processes. Water purification and treatment are therefore implemented in order to ensure an adequate and optimized supply of water as well as to minimize the consumption and cost of resources.

Brominated compounds are used as purifiers and disinfectants in cooling water systems. More efficient than chlorine, when added to water, bromine dissociates itself and forms a powerful acid that has the ability to kill the cells of the pathogens.

Cooling water systems can be found in power plants, such as those that are coal-fired, nuclear co-generation and gas stream. The productivity of the systems needs to be high in order to guarantee its economic and environmentally friendly contribution.

Bromine has exceptional capabilities within the energy industry and has the ability to redefine the parameters of sustainable and innovative technologies for the future. Ultimately, ensuring that a suitable energy supply can be maintained for the coming generations.

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