Performance assessment of laboratory and field-scale multi-step passive treatment of iron-rich acid mine drainage for design improvement

  • Tsiverihasina V. Rakotonimaro
  • Carmen Mihaela Neculita
  • Bruno Bussière
  • Thomas Genty
  • Gérald J. Zagury
Research Article

Abstract

Multi-step passive systems for the treatment of iron-rich acid mine drainage (Fe-rich AMD) perform satisfactorily at the laboratory scale. However, their field-scale application has revealed dissimilarities in performance, particularly with respect to hydraulic parameters. In this study, the assessment of factors potentially responsible for the variations in performance of laboratory and field-scale multi-step systems was undertaken. Three laboratory multi-step treatment scenarios, involving a combination of dispersed alkaline substrate (DAS) units, anoxic dolomitic drains, and passive biochemical reactors (PBRs), were set up in 10.7-L columns. The field-scale treatment consisted of two PBRs separated by a wood ash (WA) reactor. The parameters identified as possibly influencing the performances of the laboratory and field-scale experiments were the following: AMD chemistry (electrical conductivity and Fe and SO42− concentrations), flow rate (Q), and saturated hydraulic conductivity (ksat). Based on these findings, the design of an efficient passive multi-step treatment system is suggested to consider the following: (1) Fe pretreatment, using materials with high ksat and low HRT. If a PBR is to be used, the Fe load should be < 26 g/m3 substrate/day (Fe < 200 mg/L) and SO42− < 110 g/m3 substrate/day; (2) PBR/DAS filled with a mixture with at least 20% of neutralizing agent; (3) include Q and ksat (> 10−3 cm/s) in the long-term prediction. Finally, mesocosm testing is strongly recommended prior to construction of full-scale systems for the treatment of Fe-rich AMD.

Keywords

Fe-rich acid mine drainage Passive treatment design Dispersed alkaline substrate Scale effects 

Abbreviations

ALD

Anoxic limestone drains

AMD

Acid mine drainage

DAS

Dispersed alkaline substrate

DOL

Anoxic dolomitic drain

FM

Field multi-step treatment

HRT

Hydraulic retention time

IRB

Iron-reducing bacteria

LM

Laboratory multi-step treatment

PBR

Passive biochemical reactor

WA-DAS

Wood ash-dispersed alkaline substrate

SRB

Sulfate-reducing bacteria

CCBE

Cover with capillary barrier effect

Supplementary material

11356_2018_1820_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 3035 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tsiverihasina V. Rakotonimaro
    • 1
  • Carmen Mihaela Neculita
    • 1
  • Bruno Bussière
    • 1
  • Thomas Genty
    • 1
  • Gérald J. Zagury
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Institute on Mines and Environment (RIME)-University of Québec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT)Rouyn-NorandaCanada
  2. 2.RIME, Department of Civil, Geological, and Mining EngineeringPolytechnique Montréal MontréalCanada

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