Environmental Management

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 148–158 | Cite as

Removal of Acidity and Metals from Acid Mine Drainage-Impacted Water using Industrial Byproducts

  • Abhishek RoyChowdhury
  • Dibyendu SarkarEmail author
  • Rupali Datta


One of the biggest environmental impacts of mining is the generation of acid mine drainage (AMD). In the absence of proper post-mining management practices, AMD pollution can cause massive environmental damage. Current AMD management practices often fail to meet the expectations of cost, efficiency, and sustainability. The objective of this study was to utilize the metal-binding and acid-neutralizing capacity of an industrial by-product that is otherwise landfilled, namely drinking-water treatment residuals (WTRs), to treat AMD-water, thus offering a green remediation alternative. AMD-water was collected from Tab-Simco coal mine in Carbondale, Illinois. It was highly acidic (pH 2.27), and contaminated with metals, metalloids and sulfate at very high concentrations. A filter media, prepared using locally-generated aluminum (Al) and calcium (Ca)-based WTRs, was used to increase pH and to remove metals and \({\mathrm{SO}}_4^{2 - }\) from AMD-water. Laboratory-batch sorption studies at various WTRs (Al and Ca):AMD-water ratios were performed to optimize the filter media. WTRs:sand ratio of 1:6 provided optimal permeability, and 1:1 Al-WTRs:Ca-WTRs ratio was the optimal sorbent mix for removal of the metals of concern. A scaled-up study using a 55-gallon WTRs and sand-based filter was designed and tested. The results showed that the filter media removed more than 99% of the initial Fe (137 mg/L), Al (80 mg/L), Zn (11 mg/L), Pb (7 mg/L), As (4 mg/L), Mn (33 mg/L), and 44% of the initial \({\mathrm{SO}}_4^{2 - }\) (2481 mg/L) from Tab-Simco AMD-water. pH increased from 2.27 to 7.8. Desorption experiments showed that the metals were irreversibly bound to the WTRs and were not released back to the water.


Acid mine drainage Drinking water treatment residuals Tab-Simco coal mine Green remediation Filter media 



Authors gratefully acknowledge funding provided by the United States Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement under OMB No.: 4040–0004 for this study. DS was the joint-PI of that grant, and RD was the co-PI. ARC acknowledges the PhD Program in Environmental Management at Montclair State University for his Doctoral Assistantship.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

267_2018_1112_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.1 mb)
Supplementary information


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil, Environmental and Ocean EngineeringStevens Institute of TechnologyHobokenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA

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