Bromine is a chemical element belonging to the halogen family, along with chlorine, fluorine and iodine. It exists as Br2 and is a red-brown liquid at room temperature which evaporates readily to form a red-brown gas.
In nature, bromine can be found as organic bromide salts or organic bromine substances produced by sea organisms. It is usually obtained from brine sources in the USA and China, the Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan, and oceanic water from Wales and Japan. Bromine can also be found in rocks and in the earth’s crust.
Bromine can be used as an alternative to chlorine for disinfection of water. It is not usually used to treat drinking water, but is popular in the swimming pool, wastewater and cooling water applications. Bromine works as a disinfectant by ionizing contaminants and forcing apart their chemical bonds.
Bromine is used to disinfect cooling water and ensure the bacterial levels remain low. In power plants, water treatment is a key element to ensure the efficiency of the water-cooling system.
Bromine needs to be monitored to ensure the water is working efficiently to cool and remove process heat in industrial applications. If bromine levels are too low the disinfectant will not work efficiently, leading to microbiological contamination including bacterial, fungal and algal growth causing plugged spray nozzles and deposits that block airflow. Plugged spray nozzles or deposits blocking airflow do not cool as efficiently as clean ones, this forces fans or pumps to operate longer to maintain cool water temperatures, resulting in increased costs.
Additionally, if not properly disinfected cooling towers can be at risk of causing outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease. Kemio Disinfection is the ideal testing solution for cooling towers, with a result in only 30 seconds, Kemio™ provides accurate and traceable bromine results to optimise your disinfection process.
Bromine washes are used during poultry processing to remove bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. Unlike chlorine, bromine does not discolour the meat and is less corrosive on equipment.
Bromine levels must be monitored to ensure there is sufficient disinfection to remove potentially harmful pathogens.
In pools and spas bromine can be used to kill harmful bacteria and contaminants in the water. In the USA it is used as the main disinfectant in swimming pools, and in the UK it is more commonly used in hot tubs and spas, as it is active at higher pH levels and more stable at higher temperatures than chlorine. For those with sensitive skin, bromine can be preferable as it does not cause as much skin and eye irritation as chlorine.
In the UK PWTAG recommend bromine levels for pools and spas of 4.0 – 6.0 mg/L with a shock dose of 10 mg/L, although this can vary if additional chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite are also added to the water. In pools and spas bromine should be tested daily.
If bromine levels are too low, there will not be sufficient disinfectant in the pool to remove potentially harmful pathogens and if the bromine level is too high it can cause skin and eye irritation. For testing of spas and indoor pools, the Pooltest 4 is the ideal testing solution, whilst professional pool facilities should use the Pooltest 10 which includes testing for the top 10 critical pool parameters.
For more information on managing your pool or spa download our pool chemistry guide or our spa chemistry guide.
Bromine is used to disinfect wastewater, improve the rate at which industrial water can be recycled and the quality of industrial water discharge. Bromine is especially effective in the presence of ammonia because bromamines are much more potent disinfectants than chloramines.
Bromine must be monitored to ensure the levels are sufficient to disinfect the wastewater. If bromine levels are too low there will not be a high enough concentration of bromine to remove potentially harmful pathogens from the water.
Bromine is widely used in the oil and gas drilling industry in the form of clear brine fluids. Brine fluids increase both the efficiency and productivity of oil and gas wells. They are very dense solutions; when poured into the drilling hole they sink through the water to the bottom. This helps to lubricate the drill, making it possible to drill deeper.
Industrial pasteurisation at breweries, can create bad smelling water that can become intolerable without odour control. Bromine based solutions are used to kill bad odours.
Where water is coloured, turbid or has floating particles, traditional colorimetric solutions are not as suitable. Kemio Disinfection is a sophisticated electrochemical technique which is not affected by colour or turbidity and is therefore more suitable for wastewater, brewing and oil and gas applications. A portable device delivering a result in 30 seconds, Kemio enables full traceability with automatic data logging.
There is a wide range of test solutions available for bromine. For bromine testing in pools, spas, and hot tubs, we would recommend using the photometer DPD method with our Pooltest range. For process water and industrial applications, we recommend using Kemio Disinfection, our next generation measurement platform. The most simple and accurate test method available, Kemio is ideal for samples which are coloured or turbid.
In waters which have fats, oils and greases, Kemio Disinfection is the ideal testing solution. Ideal for users who use more than one disinfection type, Kemio™ Disinfection enables testing of bromine, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, chlorite and peracetic acid (PAA) on one device.
When free bromine is consumed and combined with other elements if the water, they are called bromamines.
Unlike chlorine, combined bromines are still effective disinfectants meaning that the total bromine residual is more reflective of the disinfecting power than free bromine alone.
Bromine is favoured in waters with more organic load as the combined bromines still maintain disinfecting power. Bromine is also more effective at high pH meaning it is favoured in applications like cooling towers and heating systems where the water is adjusted to a basic pH to reduce corrosion.
Cooling towers contain large amounts of warm water which is an ideal environment for Legionella to thrive. Outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease can occur if the cooling towers are not properly disinfected and maintained.