Biogeochemistry of the compost bioreactor components of a composite acid mine drainage passive remediation system
Authors: Johnson DB., Hallberg KB.,
Year of publication:2005
Journal: Science of the Total Environment, , Volume: 338(1-2), Pages: 81-93.
Publisher: Elsevier Science Bv
The compost bioreactor ("anaerobic cell") components of three composite passive remediation systems constructed to treat acid mine drainage (AMD) at the former Wheal Jane tin mine, Cornwall, UK were studied over a period of 16 months. While there was some amelioration of the preprocessed AMD in each of the three compost bioreactors, as evidenced by pH increase and decrease in metal concentrations, only one of the cells showed effective removal of the two dominant heavy metals (iron and zinc) present. With two of he compost bioreactors, concentrations of soluble (ferrous) iron draining the cells were significantly greater than those entering the reactors, indicating that there was net mobilisation (by reductive dissolution) of colloidal and/or solid-phase ferric iron compounds within the cells. Soluble sulfide was also detected in waters draining all three compost bioreactors which was rapidly oxidised, in contrast to ferrous iron. Oxidation and hydrolysis of iron, together with sulfide oxidation, resulted in reacidification of processed AMD downstream of the compost bioreactors in two of the passive treatment systems. The dominant cultivatable microorganism in waters draining the compost bioreactors was identified, via analysis of its 16S rRNA gene, as a Thiomonas so. and was capable of accelerating the dissimilatory oxidation of both ferrous iron and reduced sulfur compounds. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) were also detected, although only in the bioreactor that was performing well were these present in significant numbers. This particular compost bioreactor had been shut down for 10 months prior to the monitoring period due to operational problems. This unforeseen event appears to have allowed more successful development of AMD-tolerant and other microbial populations with critical roles in AMD bioremediation, including neutrophilic SRB (nSRB), in this compost bioreactor than in the other two, where the throughput of AMD was not interrupted. This study has revealed new insights into the operation of compost bioreactors used to remediate mine waters and has shown that, when operated under appropriate conditions, they can be highly efficient at generating alkalinity and removing metals from extremely acidic, metal-rich AMD. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V All rights reserved.