New Applications for By-Products of Salt Crystallization

Challenge details

Name: New Applications for By-Products of Salt Crystallization
Challenge type: Ideation
Award: $15000
Deadline: 18th Oct 2021

Challenge overview


The Seeker produces potash (KCl) and table salt (NaCl) from an underground mine in the Northeast of Spain. During the NaCl purification process a significant amount of magnesium- and calcium-rich by-product is produced for which there is currently no outlet for its use. The Seeker is soliciting ideas for applications of these side streams, preferably without requiring further processing but they are also open to ideas on how to cost-effectively improve the quality or purity to enable other applications.

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.



The raw mineral the Seeker uses to produce potash (KCl) also contains recoverable amounts of table salt (NaCl) that is separated along with other salts from the potash by means of a floatation process. The NaCl-rich stream is further processed and purified in a Salt Crystallization Plant (SCP) where the impurities are removed through precipitation. These by-products are high in magnesium hydroxide (Mg(OH)2), calcium carbonate (CaCO3), and calcium sulfate (CaSO4) as well as various chlorides. Currently there is no application for the by-products and the material is added to the ‘salt mountain’ at the processing site. The Seeker is looking for new, innovative ideas for what can be done with these by-products to capture value from them and/or avoid adding them to the salt mountain. Ideally, solutions will not require further processing of the materials before use, but the Seeker is also interested in ideas for cost-effective ways to improve the quality of the by-products if it enables other application areas.

This is an Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:

  • There is a guaranteed award.  The award(s) will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker. The total payout will be $15,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $2,500.
  • The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker.  Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solver grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal, including for promotional purposes.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on 18-Oct-2021.
Late submissions will not be considered.

After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s). All Solvers that submit a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.


What is InnoCentive?

InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge?

An InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge is a broad question formulated to obtain access to new ideas, similar to a global brainstorm for producing a breakthrough idea or market survey which may include ideas for a new product line, a new commercial application for a current product, or even a viral marketing idea to recruit new customers. Ideation™ Challenge submissions are typically about two written pages, and Seekers receive a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use all submissions.

In an Ideation™ Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third party information that they have the right to use and further the authority to convey that right and the right to use and develop derivative works to Seekers
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use

Solvers should not reveal any confidential information in their submissions. Often the Ideation™ Challenge will be followed by one or more of the other three Challenge types to further develop the ideas and gain Intellectual Property protection when the concept has been well-defined.