Excess phosphorus in wastewaters promotes eutrophication in receiving waterways. A??cost-effective method for the removal of phosphorus from water would significantly reduce the impact of such wastewaters on the environment. Acid mine drainage sludge is a waste product produced by the neutralization of acid mine drainage, and consists mainly of the same metal hydroxides used in traditional wastewater treatment for the removal of phosphorus. In this paper, we describe a method for the drying and pelletization of acid mine drainage sludge that results in a particulate media, which we have termed Ferroxysorb, for the removal of phosphorus from wastewater in an efficient packed bed contactor. Adsorption capacities are high, and kinetics rapid, such that a contact time of less than 5 min is sufficient for removal of 60-90% of the phosphorus, depending on the feed concentration and time in service. In addition, the adsorption capacity of the Ferroxysorb media was increased dramatically by using two columns in an alternating sequence so that each sludge bed receives alternating rest and adsorption cycles. A stripping procedure based on treatment with dilute sodium hydroxide was also developed that allows for recovery of the P from the media, with the possibility of generating a marketable fertilizer product. These results indicate that acid mine drainage sludges - hitherto thought of as undesirable wastes - can be used to remove phosphorus from wastewater, thus offsetting a portion of acid mine drainage treatment costs while at the same time improving water quality in sensitive watersheds.
Additional publication details
Removal of phosphorus from agricultural wastewaters using adsorption media prepared from acid mine drainage sludge