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Treatment of acid mine drainage (AMD), whether with lime, limestone, caustic or simple aeration, nearly always results in generation of a metal hydroxide sludge. Disposal of the sludge often constitutes a significant fraction of the operating cost for the AMD treatment plant. Research at the USGS - Leetown Science Center has shown that AMD sludge, with its high content of aluminum and iron oxides, has a high affinity of phosphorus (P). Anthropogenic sources of P are associated with eutrophication and degradation of aquatic environments, resulting in anoxic dead zones in certain sensitive waterways. In this paper, we describe a method of converting the AMD sludge from a liability into an asset - Ferroxysorb P removal media - which can be used to remove excess P from wastewater. Three different Ferroxysorb media samples were produced from differing AMD sources and tested for P removal. Adsorption isotherms confirmed that the media had a high sorption capacity for P, as high as 19,000 mg/kg. The technology was demonstrated at an active fish hatchery, where the media remained in service for over three months without stripping or regeneration. Over that period of time, the calculated P removal was 50%, even at a very low influent P concentration of 60 parts per billion. In summary, use of the AMD-derived Ferroxysorb sorption media will reduce AMD treatment costs while at the same time helping to resolve the pressing environmental issue of eutrophication and degradation of sensitive waterways.
Additional Publication Details
Removal of phosphorus from wastewater using ferroxysorb sorption media produced from amd sludge