The EU Salt Association is the authoritative voice of the salt industry in Europe, representing the industry and helping to advocate and promote the importance of salt as an essential building block in the chemicals, energy, health, nutrition and other sectors. In this article we take a closer look at the topics discussed at the 2019 conference.
With British Salt’s Ladan Iravanian president of the EU Salt Association this year, there was extra interest at British Salt in the topics being discussed. Boasting a strong cast of industry, engineering and health experts, this year’s conference looked at:
We’ve picked out our highlights on each topic with the first two in this article and the second two available here.
The Future of Salt
One area that caught our eye is the pivotal role that salt could play in the changing energy sector. Whilst the use of salt caverns - formed by solution mining for natural gas storage - has happened for decades and is something British Salt has done, helping the UK’s security of gas supplies, there were discussions about using the caverns for storage of hydrogen gas. A potential route to decarbonising energy, storing hydrogen gas may have different challenges to natural gas. Salt can also be used to produce hydrogen gas through electrolysis of brine, resulting in caustic soda and hydrogen gas. Requiring significant energy input, if coupled with solar or wind power, salt may help unlock hydrogen as a replacement fuel with all the benefits this can bring.
Jan Post of Wetsus, presented the potential for sodium to be used in batteries. With intermittent generation a challenge for solar and wind energy, energy storage in batteries is a hot topic. Many batteries use lithium, however, availability of lithium and the environmental damage caused by lithium extraction mean that other options including sodium are being investigated. It’s very early on in development at the moment, but one to watch in the future of salt.
Safety and Salt
A cornerstone of every EU Salt Association Conference, the Safety Awards, provide the opportunity to share best practice amongst members. British Salt won the 2018 award for the use of virtual reality in helping to train operatives to spot potential hazards and unsafe acts. The 2019 awards saw four fabulous entries with the winner, Nouryon, securing the honours with a scheme to make safety training more appealing to operatives. Ineos challenged staff to make a video about safety, then held a company-wide movie night where the videos were judged and winners awarded Oscars for their efforts. Great effort – it must also have been great fun to be part of!
We’re already looking forward to the 2020 conference, if you’ve any questions about this article, please do get in touch!