Nahcolite is a naturally occurring sodium bicarbonate mineral found in subsurface formations. American Soda LLP conducted field tests to prove that nahcolite can be deep mined using low-cost conventional solution mining method. The process involved the injection of hot, high pressure water down wells into a nahcolite deposit about 2,600 feet below the surface where the mineral is dissolved and brought to the surface for recovery.
The monitoring and optimization of recovery efficiency based on scores of upstream process parameters, such as water injection rate, required the monitoring of produced liquid density. This was done initially with a mass meter located immediately downstream of the well head.
Co-production of small amounts of gas, mainly methane and carbon dioxide, entrained in the liquid phase prevented the accurate measurement of the solution density using a Coriolis meter technology. Premier Instruments provided a remedy with a gas liquid cylindrical cyclone (GLCC© 1) separator properly sized and engineered for the process requirements. A gas control valve with liquid level feedback was used to eliminate the entrained gas in the liquid phase. This strategy proved to be functional which allowed American Soda to proceed with the field development. Today, 26 production wells employ the GLCC separator at each production well.