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Reactive Transport Modeling of Column Experiments for the Remediation of Acid Mine Drainage

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journal contribution
posted on 01.06.2004, 00:00 by Richard T. Amos, K. Ulrich Mayer, David W. Blowes, Carol J. Ptacek
Reactive transport modeling was used to evaluate the performance of two similar column experiments. The experiments were designed to simulate the treatment of acid mine drainage through microbially mediated sulfate reduction and subsequent sulfide mineral precipitation by means of an organic carbon permeable reactive barrier. Principal reactions considered in the simulations include microbially mediated reduction of sulfate by organic matter, mineral dissolution/precipitation reactions, and aqueous complexation/hydrolysis reactions. Simulations of column 1, which contained composted leaf mulch, wood chips, sawdust, and sewage sludge as an organic carbon source, accurately predicted sulfate concentrations in the column effluent throughout the duration of the experiment using a single fixed rate constant for sulfate reduction of 6.9 × 10-9 mol L-1 s-1. Using the same reduction rate for column 2, which contained only composted leaf mulch and sawdust as an organic carbon source, sulfate concentrations at the column outlet were overpredicted at late times, suggesting that sulfate reduction rates increased over the duration of the column experiment and that microbial growth kinetics may have played an important role. These modeling results suggest that the reactivity of the organic carbon treatment material with respect to sulfate reduction does not significantly decrease over the duration of the 14-month experiments. The ability of the columns to remove ferrous iron appears to be strongly influenced by the precipitation of siderite, which is enhanced by the dissolution of calcite. The simulations indicate that while calcite was available in the column, up to 0.02 mol L-1 of ferrous iron was removed from solution as siderite and mackinawite. Later in the experiments after ∼300 d, when calcite was depleted from the columns, mackinawite became the predominant iron sink. The ability of the column to remove ferrous iron as mackinawite was estimated to be ∼0.005 mol L-1 for column 1. As the precipitation of mackinawite is sulfide limited at later times, the amount of iron removed will ultimately depend on the reactivity of the organic mixture and the amount of sulfate reduced.