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K+S Brine Challenge was great Success

Winners of the crowdsourcing competition are from the USA and Australia


The K+S Brine Challenge focused on exploring innovative approaches and concepts to further significantly reduce the saline wastewater from the tailings piles. Ideas were submitted by scientists, companies, institutes, students as well as non-professionals from 16 countries. The jury of external and K+S internal experts has now awarded EUR 20,000 each to the two best proposals out of a total of more than 40 ideas submitted. The two winners are:

  • Kevin Joback, engineer from Bedford (New Hampshire), USA
  • Thomas Baumgartl, scientist from Churchill (Victoria), Australia

Mr. Joback suggests to further reduce the brine formation by applying a special polymer. Mr. Baumgartl’s idea involves coating the tailings piles with water-repellent materials.

Mark Roberts, Chief Operating Officer of K+S: “The K+S Brine Challenge was a great success! Congratulations to the two winners and many thanks to all other participants! We are excited about the great response to our first crowdsourcing competition”.

For a long time now, K+S has been working on the long-term project of covering the tailings piles for example in the Werra potash region to reduce the saline wastewater produced by rainfall. K+S experts have already developed promising processes in recent years. Dr. Arne Schmeisky, Brine Challenge project manager, explains: “The two award-winning ideas do not involve any new covering techniques, but they do provide approaches for possibly improving our existing processes.” One of the two ideas will now be tested as part of the ongoing project for the thin-layer process developed by K+S to cover tailings piles at the Werra site. “The second proposal will initially be subjected to a more detailed technical and economic analysis to check its feasibility”, continued Schmeisky.

As part of the new Shaping 2030 corporate strategy, K+S has clearly committed itself to sustainability with ambitious goals, innovations and constructive dialogue with stakeholders. All these goals were combined in the Brine Challenge.

Serak Rezane, Head of Corporate Innovation: "In the future, we want to increasingly utilize these and other collaborative formats to further increase the innovative maturity of our company".

Source: K+S AG

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