Superfund Research Program
Value Added Product Generation from Acid Rock Drainage
Project Leader: Patrick I. James
Grant Number: R43ES020096
Funding Period: Phase I: July 2011 – December 2011
Harmful metals not readily detoxified naturally are discharged from numerous industrial activities and pose lasting environmental hazards requiring expensive remediation efforts. This project targets profitable dilute metal removal and reclamation. Creating an economic driver for metal contamination mitigation improves human health by promoting environmental cleanups and stopping metal toxin discharge. This is particularly valuable for the many abandoned mines leaking toxic Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) Nation-wide and for which no economic incentive to correct presently exists (i.e. left to Superfund cleanups).
This project's long term goal is to change the environmental paradigm so waste is treated as a resource. The patent-pending platform technology was shown capable of profitable dilute copper recovery and a new variation for greatly expanding the technology's utility was recently validated. Here this new core technology variant will be used to profitability remove iron (a predominant contaminant) from ARD and recover it as a high value product widely used in a variety of industrial processes. Expanding the target technology range of utility will facilitate market entry and magnify its overall positive impact.
The goals of this project include:
- Demonstrate the removal of dilute iron from synthetic ARD using the technology.
- Demonstrate the target high-value product recovery and generation from iron.
- Demonstrate conversion of dilute iron in synthetic ARD into the target high-value product.
- Test technology performance trends with ARD and select preferred operation parameters.
- Modify 10 GPM copper recovery prototype for iron removal – test at Superfund ARD site.
Research Design & Methods: The goal of this project will be accomplished as follows:
- A 0.5 GPM bench-top ARD treatment cell incorporating the new concept will be constructed.
- Standard electrochemical laboratory batch and flow-through controlled voltage tests treating synthetic and real ARD will establish the technology performance trends.
- The targeted iron halve reaction progress will be monitored spectroscopically.
- Iron recovery & conversion, ARD treatment rate, system power consumption, plus physical and performance stability will be determined as a function of key operating parameters.
- Financial modeling using operating/performance trends estimates scenario treatment costs.
The major benefits of this project are: The targeted ARD iron removal improves traditional treatment and stretches taxpayer dollars. It defrays and reduces costs by lessening treatment loads and providing revenue.