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Online monitoring of brine leaks in new ponds


Deadline 08/08/2022

Closing Time 4:00 pm

During the second half of 2022, 9 ponds covering an area of
570,000 m2 will be built in Salar de Atacama. The ponds vary in size from 100×200 m to 500×220 m and their
construction involves leveling and flattening the salt crust
and creating halite walls at their edges 3 meters above the surface of the salar. Once the process is completed, a base or layer of 300 g/m2 geotextile membrane and a layer of
HDPE or PVC material 1 mm thick are placed. The
construction time of the pond is approximately 3 months
and the useful life in operation is more than 5 years.

In order to perform preventive maintenance of the
evaporation ponds, technological solutions are sought for
online monitoring and timely alerting of the location of
infiltrations or ruptures that may occur during operation and
harvesting. The proposed solutions can be installed before or during the construction of the pond.
As a secondary, non-exclusive objective, the aim is to
quantify the infiltrated volume.

• The solution must be capable of detecting a leak
anywhere in the pond..
• The solution must provide the coordinates or location
where the infiltration occurs with a maximum accuracy of
± 1 m.
• Must generate and visualize information online, with data
updated at least 24 hours a day.
• The solution should be compatible with the following
operating conditions:
∙ Exposure to a brine and a salt crust (halite),
(See Annex: chemical characterization of the
∙ In times of pond harvesting, the technological
solution will be exposed to loading and tensile
stresses from heavy machinery.
∙ Useful life greater than 5 years.
∙ Technology maintenance should not be invasive
or ensure an extended service life.

• Degree of technological maturity at least at
the level of prototype tested in operational
environment (TRL ≥ 7).
• Must have visualization, user interface and
reportability tools.
• There is construction flexibility if the
technology requires the installation of a base
layer or other requirements.

Solutions that detect leaks by indirect methods
such as electromagnetic mapping, dipole-dipole,
3D-ERT scanning, etc. are excluded.

Currently, there is no online infiltration monitoring
system to detect brine leakage.

Uncertainty in mass balances and pond
maintenance planning.

There is no estimated correlation of vulnerable
areas or frequency of leaks.

Through indirect methods such as: geophysical
(electromagnetic mapping, dipole-dipole, 3DERT scanning), tightness tests, mass balances.
These methods detect the leak, but in a delayed
manner and do not provide information on the
specific location where the rupture occurred.

No technologies have been tested.