Sulfate-reducing bioreactor net discharge monitoring

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed May 27, 2009 Dec 31, 2014 Martin
Director: Tracy Branam
Other Researchers: Greg Olyphant (IU-DGS), Matt Reeder (IU-DGS), Tim Buxton (USFS)
Funding: U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
Issue: The construction of two sulfate-reducing bioreactor cells (SRBC) at a location in Martin County, Indiana on Hoosier National Forest land known as the Lacy site is being undertaken by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Reclamation (IDNR-DOR) to ameliorate the affects of acid-mine drainage (AMD) coming from small abandoned coal mines that operated over a 100 years ago. The use of bioreactor technology is new to the state of Indiana but promises to be beneficial in areas of low flow AMD discharge where more land-consuming techniques are not practical.
Objective: From monitoring flow rates along with chemical and stable isotopic components, the research conducted at this site will provide data for evaluating the effectiveness of the bioreactor in reducing acid-mine drainage, evaluating the microbial activity, and constructing a predictive model capable of providing sizing and longevity information to organizations desiring to build additional bioreactors for future low-flow AMD seep amelioration projects.
Approach: In order to properly evaluate the discharge quality coming from a bioreactor, the IGS will collect comprehensive chemical and flow data from both inflow and outflow of the SRBCs being installed at the Lacy site.
Products: Net discharge monitoring data will be presented in reports to collaborating agencies (e.g., IDNR-DOR and USFS) as well as peer reviewed publications, conference presentations, and a dissertation.
Benefits: Though the primary focus of the IGS research will be on the rate of consumption of bioreactor materials through monitoring ports distributed in a 3-D grid pattern within the bioreactors, data collected from both input and discharge points will provide a net mass transfer balance between the untreated and treated discharge and be integral to the hydrochemical model development. At the same time this water quality data will be utilized by the USFS for evaluating the quality of water leaving the treatment site and ultimately the land under USFS jurisdiction.