Treatment of Selenium and Nitrate in Acid Mine Drainage: A Column Study

Thursday, 17 December 2015: 11:50
3016 (Moscone West)
Hyeonsil An and Sung-Wook Jeen, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, South Korea
Treatment efficiency of selenium and nitrate in acid mine drainage (AMD) by two types of reactive mixtures, i.e., organic carbon-limestone (OC-LS) and organic carbon-zero valent iron (OC-ZVI), was evaluated through column experiments. The influent AMD, collected at an abandoned metal mine site in Korea, had pH of 2.9 and contained 1600 mg/ L of SO42- and elevated concentrations of metals (e.g., Al, Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Zn). Selenium (40 mg/L) and nitrate (100 mg/L as NO3-N initially and 10 mg/L as NO3-N after 55 days) were spiked into the AMD. The columns were operated for a total of 90 days. The results showed the increase of pH from 2.9 to 7.0 and the decreases in concentrations of most of major ions including selenium and nitrate in both the OC-LS and OC-ZVI columns. The OC-ZVI column had higher removal rates of selenium and nitrate and created a more reduced environment than the OC-LS column due to the abiotic reactions of ZVI. However, a notable amount of ammonia was produced as a reaction product in the OC-ZVI column, while the OC-LS produced a minimum amount of ammonia, suggesting formation of N2 by denitrification. In both columns, removal rates of selenium were substantially increased when the influent NO3-N concentration was changed from 100 mg/L to 10 mg/L. Sulfate was reduced as much as 390 mg/L, as indicated by detection of hydrogen sulfide. The reduction of most metals is considered to be due to precipitation of metal-containing secondary minerals (e.g., sulfides, hydroxides, carbonates). This study shows that treatment of selenium and nitrate in AMD can be achievable using organic carbon-based reactive mixtures through reduction of selenium and nitrate. However, the use of ZVI is not recommended when selenium and nitrate coexist in AMD because of production of ammonia by abiotic reaction between ZVI and nitrate. This study also shows that concentration of nitrate in AMD is an important factor to determine the rate of selenium removal.