ARD Remediation with Limestone in a CO2 Pressurized Reactor

Sibrell. Philip L., ; Watten, Barnaby J. ; Friedrich, Andrew E. ; Vinci, Brian J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
We evaluated a new process for remediation of acid rock drainage (ARD). The process treats ARD with intermittently fluidized beds of granular limestone maintained within a continuous flow reactor pressurized with CO2. Tests were performed over a thirty day period at the Toby Creek mine drainage treatment plant, Elk County, Pennsylvania in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Equipment performance was established at operating pressures of 0,34,82, and 117 kPa using an ARD flow of 227 L/min. The ARD had the following characteristics: pH, 3.1; temperature, 10 OC; dissolved oxygen, 6.4 mg/L; acidity, 260 mg/5; total iron, 21 mg/L; aluminum, 22 mg/L; manganese, 7.5 mg/L; and conductivity, 1400 uS/cm. In all cases tested, processed ARD was net alkaline with mean pH and alkalinities of 6.7 and 59 mg/L at a CO2 pressure of 0 kPa, 6.6 and 158 mg/L at 34 kPa, 7.4 and 240 mg/L at 82 kPa, and 7.4 and 290 mg/L at 117 kPa Processed ARD alkalinities were correlated to the settled bed depth (p<0.001) and CO2 pressure (p<0.001). Iron, aluminum, and manganese removal efficiencies of 96%, 99%, and 5%, respectively, were achieved with filtration following treatment. No indications of metal hydroxide precipitation or armoring of the limestone were observed. The surplus alkalinity established at 82 kPa was successful in treating an equivalent of 1136 L/min (fivefold dilution) of the combined three ARD streams entering the Toby Creek Plant. This side-stream capability provides savings in treatment unit scale as well as flexibility in treatment effect. The capability of the system to handle higher influent acidity was tested by elevating the acidity to 5000 mg/L with sulfuric acid. Net alkaline effluent was produced, indicating applicability of the process to highly acidic ARD.
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