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General Information

Elemental bromine (Br) is the 25th chemical element in order of abundance in nature and is a component of some brines. At room temperature, bromine is a highly corrosive, reddish-brown, volatile liquid which, along with fluorine (F), chlorine (Cl), and iodine (I), forms a family of elements known as the halogens. The word "halogen" means salt producer. Brine is another name for salt water and is found throughout the world in varying concentrations in oceans, briny lakes, inland seas, in salt beds and within subsurface geological formations.

Although there are many uses for bromine, nearly one-half of the bromine consumed annually is used in flame retardants. Other uses of bromine include insect and fungus sprays, anti-knock compounds for leaded gasoline, disinfectants, photographic preparations and chemicals, solvents, water-treatment compounds, dyes, insulating foam, hair-care products, and oil well-drilling fluids.

Geology

During the Paleozoic era (543 to 248 million years ago), southern Arkansas was covered by seawater. Bromine, which occurs naturally in seawater, was extracted from the water by seaweed and plankton. As these organisms decomposed during the Jurassic period (206 to 144 million years ago), bromine was released, leaving heavy salt concentrations called brines in Union and Columbia counties. The Upper Jurassic Smackover Formation contains the richest of these brines (5,000 to 6,000 ppm) at a depth of 7,500 to 8,500 feet. The brine is believed to have migrated into the Smackover from the underlying Louann Salt, through the intervening Norphlet Formation.

Production

Since 2007, all US bromine has been produced in southern Arkansas. In 2013, 28% of the global bromine production (225,000 tonnes) in Arkansas made the United States the second-largest producer of bromine, after Israel. At an advertised price of US$3.50 to US$3.90 per kg, the 2013 Arkansas production would have a value of roughly US$800 million (1).

The first bromine production of Arkansas occurred in Union County in 1957 and has continued ever since. To date, the two active bromine producers in southern Arkansas are Albemarle Corporation and Chemtura, whose bromine operations together employ 950 people. Albemarle Corporation, whose corporate headquarters is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, operates two main plants at Magnolia, in Columbia County, Arkansas, and some satellite plants in Union County. In 2007, Albemarle had capacity to produce 148,000 tons of bromine per year.

Chemtura, a Philadelphia-based corporation, operates four plants through its subsidiary, Great Lakes Solutions. Three plants are in the vicinity of El Dorado, and all in Union County, Arkansas. In 2007, Chemtura had the capacity to produce 130,000 tonnes of bromine per year.

Annual bromine production in Arkansas has been updated in the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission Annual Report of Production (2).

References

1) Bromine Production in the United States

2) Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission Annual Report of Production


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