Garabogazgol Bay, located on the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea in an area with a desert, arid climate of Turkmenistan, is considered the world’s largest deposit of sulfate salts with reserves estimated in billions of tons, Serdar Mammedov, head of the laboratory of the Institute of Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan, writes in his article, published in the newspaper “Neutral Turkmenistan”.
Garabogazgol is a vast salt basin with an area of more than 18 thousand square kilometers, being a huge resource potential of the country’s chemical industry.
In the summer months, the solar heat evaporate up to 16 km3 of water from the bay. As a result, the water level there is lower than in the sea, resulting in continuous accumulation of salts.
According to the Institute of Chemistry, waste brines contain compounds of valuable elements in demand by industry and agriculture, such as lithium, potassium, boron, bromine, etc. All these elements have an industrial quality, which means they have export potential.
The consumption of lithium minerals has a wide range of applications. 25% of the mineral is used by factories for the production of refractory products, 20% – in the production of special grades of glass, the same amount consumed by the manufacture of ceramic products and glazes, 12 % – in chemical industry, 10 % – in metallurgical industry, 5 % – in the production of fiberglass and 8% – in other industries.
Moreover, lithium is effectively used for removing gases dissolved in molten metals.
The world production of bromine amounted to about 730 thousand tons per year. And this is a scarce commodity with a high export potential for Turkmenistan.
Another product contained in the natural waters of Garabogazgol is lithium bromide LiBr. In recent decades, due to the aggravation of environmental problems, absorption refrigerator units based on lithium bromide have found a wide application. The absorption chilling system belong to the group of heat-using refrigerating machines. This is their great advantage over compressor refrigerators, since cheaper thermal energy is used to drive absorption units, rather than more costly electrical energy. In Turkmenistan, an industrial absorption refrigerating machine has been used at the joint pharmaceutical enterprise “Ajanta” for 25 years, which shows its environmental safety in a hot climate.
According to the Institute of Chemistry of Turkmenistan, at present, in order to develop the wealth of Garabogazgol Bay, the State Concern “Turkmenhimiya” [Turkmen chemicals] is holding a closed tender for the working out feasibility study of the construction of a chemical complex for the integrated processing of hydromineral raw materials of Garabogazgol Bay.
The Institute’s Laboratory of Chemistry and Technology of Natural hydromineral raw materials are conducting research on the widespread use of bischofite based on brines of the Garabogazgol. Graduate students are engaged in research of technologies for the extraction of rare elements, including lithium and bromine compounds. ///nCa, 3 August 2022