A bulk brine system manages water conditioning salt brine levels in commercial and industrial water treatment applications.
Four factors can determine if there is a need for a bulk brine system.
- Is the facility located in a hard water region?
- What is the facility’s current or expected salt usage?
- Are there concerns about salt storage and handling logistics?
- Are there mechanical room design challenges?
Hard water regions
Hardness is measured by the amount of dissolved minerals (calcium and magnesium) in water. A high mineral content indicates a high hardness level. Although not a health hazard, hard water has negative effects on industrial appliances including scale build up which can reduce the efficiency and life of equipment such as chillers, boilers and plumbing systems.
About 85% of the water in the United States is considered hard. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the country’s softest water is found in parts of New England, the South Atlantic-Gulf States, the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Moderately hard waters are common in many rivers of Alaska and Tennessee, the Great Lakes region, and the Pacific Northwest. Hard and very hard waters were found in some streams in most of the regions throughout the country. Hardest waters were measured in streams in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, and southern California. Moderately hard to hard water flows throughout the Mid-Atlantic. An extremely hard zone falls in the Midwest. For example, Indianapolis is on the Top 10 list of hard water cities in the United States.
Facility’s Expected Salt Use
If a facility uses 50 tons or more of bagged salt per year to soften water, a bulk brine system should be considered. At 50 tons, or less for some businesses, an average return on investment is 36 months. Converting from bagged salt to bulk salt lowers operational costs, eliminates employee risk as well as reduces the facility’s carbon footprint.
Salt Storage and Logistics
Regardless of the amount of salt used, facilities need to consider the storage of large, heavy pallets of salt. A typical pallet has 49 bags each weighing 50 pounds. At approximately 1 ¼ tons and measuring 48” x 40”, even large facilities can face storage issues. In addition to the storage concerns are potential logistical problems. Manual labor is needed to move tons of salt around a site to all of the needed locations. Bulk brine systems are able to supply multiple locations automatically eliminating the need for human involvement.
Mechanical Room Design Challenges
It is not always possible to design mechanical rooms with the water conditioning system in mind. Systems are often placed in inconvenient, hard to reach areas. Often the salt cannot be stored near the system. Distance and elevation differences may be factors. As a result, it can be challenging for employees to constantly replenish the salt supply especially if they have to move small quantities of salt from storage and distribute across the facility.
A bulk brine system does not need to be located near the water conditioner. It is outside in either a belowground or aboveground tank. A bulk brine system can be connected to supply brine to multiple softener day-tanks.
Mechanical room security concerns are addressed with the use of a bulk brine system. Many industries such as pharmaceutical, education, government and corrections require controlled access throughout their facility. Admittance to the inside of the facility is not necessary to fill bulk brine systems thus maintaining security.
Bulk brine systems are simple concepts that solve the real problem of supplying fully saturated brine to a facility’s water conditioning systems.
Sources: US Geological Survey; Home Water 101