Removal of Metals and Acidity from Acid Mine Drainage Using Liquid and Dried Digested Sewage Sludge and Cattle Slurry

Research paper by Theresa A. Hughes, N. F. Gray, Olga Sánchez Guillamón

Indexed on: 06 Mar '13Published on: 06 Mar '13Published in: Mine Water and the Environment


The metal removal and neutralization capacities of digested sewage sludges from municipal wastewater treatment plants, cattle slurry (liquid manure), and Biofert granules (dried granular anaerobic sludge) were compared under batch conditions using synthetic AMD (pH 2.8) containing high concentrations of Al, Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb, and Zn (100, 15, 270, 15, 2, and 30 mg/L, respectively). The effects of contact time and solids concentration were examined. Metal removal was variable for all materials. Contact time had a significant effect, with total removal often increasing over the experimental time interval (i.e. 30 min to 24 h). Removal efficiency (%) was generally highest for Cu, Pb, and Al, while Mn and Zn were the least removed. Cattle slurry was the best material for metal removal, with the following maximum removals at a solids concentration of 12.9 g/L: Cu >98 %, Al >98 %, Fe >60 %, Mn >18 %, Pb >96 %, and Zn >60 %. Metal removal using digested sewage sludge reached 88 % for Al, 98 % for Cu, 94 % for Pb, and 30 % for Zn. Neutralization was complete within 30 min after AMD was mixed with digested sludges or cattle slurry, with the pH reaching a maximum of 5.5 with the slurry. In contrast, neutralization by the Biofert granules only reached equilibrium after 300 min, and pH remained <4.0 except at high solids concentrations. It appears that recycled waste-derived organic materials can neutralize AMD and remove dissolved metals by adsorption and precipitation, creating a more treatable waste stream or one that could be discharged directly to surface water. Potential methods of safe disposal of metal-enriched organic materials are discussed.