Geological Research at the IGS

Optimization of bioreactor cell design for treating low-flow acid mine drainage in the Midwest: Model development and demonstration

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed Oct 1, 2007 Sep 30, 2009 Clay, Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Martin, Posey, Spencer, Sullivan,
Vanderburgh, Vigo, Warrick
Director: Tracy Branam
Other Researchers: Jack Haddan, Greg Olyphant , , Jack Haddan, Matthew Reeder
Issue: Acid mine drainage (AMD) has long been known for its detrimental effect on the environment. Many AMD sources are currently not treatable because of some constraining factor that limits the effectiveness of available methods. In particular, low-flow, high dissolved-solids acidic seeps have proven to be resistant to successful mitigation.
Objective: This project will test and demonstrate sulfate-reducing bioreactor cell (SRBC) technology on low-flow, metal-rich acid seeps in the Midwest. A predictive model capable of assisting engineers in designing SRBCs for AMD sources throughout the Midwest will be developed.
Approach: This research will design and test an SRBC method which simultaneously reduces sulfate, removes metals, neutralizes acid, and generates excess alkalinity using a limestone-buffered organic substrate. We will install and monitor the performance of a field-scale test SRBC and collect sufficient hydrologic and water-quality data to document the environmental impact and to build a predictive model.
Benefits: This project will provide the information needed to design more effective AMD abatement systems for Indiana and the Midwest. Application of this improved technology will remediate environmental damage such as clogged streams and polluted water caused by acid mine drainage.

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