Removal of acidity and metals from acid mine drainage-impacted water using industrial byproducts.

Abhishek Roychowdhury, Michigan Technological University
Dibyendu Sarkar, Stevens Institute of Technology
Rupali Datta, Michigan Technological University


One of the biggest environmental impacts of mining is the generation of acid mine drainage (AMD). In the absence of proper post-mining management practices, AMD pollution can cause massive environmental damage. Current AMD management practices often fail to meet the expectations of cost, efficiency, and sustainability. The objective of this study was to utilize the metal-binding and acid-neutralizing capacity of an industrial by-product that is otherwise landfilled, namely drinking-water treatment residuals (WTRs), to treat AMD-water, thus offering a green remediation alternative. AMD-water was collected from Tab-Simco coal mine in Carbondale, Illinois. It was highly acidic (pH 2.27), and contaminated with metals, metalloids and sulfate at very high concentrations. A filter media, prepared using locally-generated aluminum (Al) and calcium (Ca)-based WTRs, was used to increase pH and to remove metals and [Formula: see text] from AMD-water. Laboratory-batch sorption studies at various WTRs (Al and Ca):AMD-water ratios were performed to optimize the filter media. WTRs:sand ratio of 1:6 provided optimal permeability, and 1:1 Al-WTRs:Ca-WTRs ratio was the optimal sorbent mix for removal of the metals of concern. A scaled-up study using a 55-gallon WTRs and sand-based filter was designed and tested. The results showed that the filter media removed more than 99% of the initial Fe (137 mg/L), Al (80 mg/L), Zn (11 mg/L), Pb (7 mg/L), As (4 mg/L), Mn (33 mg/L), and 44% of the initial [Formula: see text] (2481 mg/L) from Tab-Simco AMD-water. pH increased from 2.27 to 7.8. Desorption experiments showed that the metals were irreversibly bound to the WTRs and were not released back to the water.