Environmental Earth Sciences

, 59:241 | Cite as

Selection of permeable reactive barrier materials for treating acidic groundwater in acid sulphate soil terrains based on laboratory column tests

  • Alexandra N. GolabEmail author
  • Mark A. Peterson
  • Buddhima Indraratna
Original Article


The Shoalhaven region of NSW experiences environmental acidification due to acid sulphate soils (ASS). In order to trial an environmental engineering solution to groundwater remediation involving a permeable reactive barrier (PRB), comprehensive site characterisation and laboratory-based batch and column tests of reactive materials were conducted. The PRB is designed to perform in situ remediation of the acidic groundwater (pH 3) that is generated in ASS. Twenty-five alkaline reactive materials have been tested for suitability for the barrier, with an emphasis on waste materials, including waste concrete, limestone, calcite-bearing zeolitic breccia, blast furnace slag and oyster shells. Following three phases of batch tests, two waste materials (waste concrete and oyster shells) were chosen for column tests that simulate flow conditions through the barrier and using acidic water from the field site (pH 3). Both waste materials successfully treated with the acidic water, for example, after 300 pore volumes, the oyster shells still neutralised the water (pH 7).


Geochemistry Ground water contamination 



This research was funded by an Australian Research Council grant in collaboration with the Manildra Group and Shoalhaven City Council. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Glenys Lugg, Warwick Papworth, Bob Rowlan and Stephen Hay.


  1. Abadzic SD, Ryan JN (2001) Particle release and permeability reduction in a natural zeolite (clinoptilolite) and sand porous medium. Environ Sci Technol 35(22):4502–4508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahn JS, Chon C-M, Moon H-S, Kim K-W (2003) Arsenic removal using steel manufacturing byproducts as permeable reactive materials in mine tailing containment systems. Water Res 37(10):2478–2488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amos RT, Mayer KU, Blowes DW, Ptacek CJ (2004) Reactive transport modeling of column experiments for the remediation of acid mine drainage. Environ Sci Technol 38(11):3131–3138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bertocchi AF, Ghiani M, Peretti R, Zucca A (2006) Red mud and fly ash for remediation of mine sites contaminated with As, Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn. J Hazard Mater 134(1):112–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bilek F (2006) Column tests to enhance sulphide precipitation with liquid organic electron donators to remediate AMD-influenced groundwater. Environ Geol 49:674–683CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Christensen B, Laake M, Lien T (1996) Treatment of acid mine water by sulfate-reducing bacteria; results from a bench scale experiment. Water Res 30(7):1617–1624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dent D (1986) Acid sulphate soils: a baseline for research and development. IRRI Publication No 39, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  8. Furukawa Y, Kim J-W, Watkins J, Wilkin RT (2002) Formation of ferrihydrite and associated iron corrosion products in permeable reactive barriers of zero-valent iron. Environ Sci Technol 36(24):5469–5475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gibert O, de Pablo J, Cortina JL, Ayora C (2003) Evaluation of municipal compost/limestone/iron mixtures as filling material for permeable reactive barriers for in-situ acid mine drainage treatment. J Chem Technol Biotechnol 78(5):489–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gillham RW, O’Hannesin SF (1994) Enhanced degradation of halogenated aliphatics by zero-valent iron. Ground Water 32(6):958–967CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Golab AN, Peterson MA, Indraratna B (2006) Selection of potential reactive materials for a permeable reactive barrier for remediating acidic groundwater in acid sulphate soil terrains. Q J Eng Geol Hydrogeol 39:209–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gusmao AD, de Campos TMP, de Melo Maia Nobre M, Vargas EdA Jr (2004) Laboratory tests for reactive barrier design. J Hazard Mater 110(1–3):105–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Indraratna B, Golab A, Glamore W, Blunden B (2005) Acid sulphate soil remediation techniques on the Shoalhaven River Floodplain, Australia. Q J Eng Geol Hydrogeol 38:129–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kamolpornwijit W, Liang L, West OR, Moline GR, Sullivan AB (2003) Preferential flow path development and its influence on long-term PRB performance: column study. J Contam Hydrol 66(3–4):161–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kamolpornwijit W, Liang L, Moline GR, Hart T, West OR (2004) Identification and quantification of mineral precipitation in Fe0 filings from a column study. Environ Sci Technol 38(21):5757–5765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Komnitsas K, Bartzas G, Paspaliaris I (2004) Efficiency of limestone and red mud barriers: laboratory column studies. Miner Eng 17(2):183–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kuyucak N, St-Germain P (1994) In situ treatment of acid mine drainage by sulfate reducing bacteria in open pits: scale-up experiences. International land reclamation and mine drainage conference, PittsburghGoogle Scholar
  18. Lapointe F, Fytas K, McConchie D (2005) Using permeable reactive barriers for the treatment of acid rock drainage. Int J Surf Min Reclam Environ 19:57–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Liang L, Korte N, Gu B, Puls R, Reeter C (2000) Geochemical and microbial reactions affecting the long-term performance of in situ ‘iron barriers’. Adv Environ Res 4(4):273–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Liang L, Sullivan AB, West OR, Moline GR, Kamolpornwijit W (2003) Predicting the precipitation of mineral phases in permeable reactive barriers. Environ Eng Sci 20(6):635–653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Logan MV, Reardon KF, Figueroa LA, McLain JET, Ahmann DM (2005) Microbial community activities during establishment, performance, and decline of bench-scale passive treatment systems for mine drainage. Water Res 39(18):4537–4551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Loy A, Kusel K, Lehner A, Drake HL, Wagner M (2004) Microarray and functional gene analyses of sulfate-reducing prokaryotes in low-sulfate, acidic fens reveal cooccurrence of recognized genera and novel lineages. Appl Environ Microbiol 70(12):6998–7009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mackenzie PD, Horney DP, Sivavec TM (1999) Mineral precipitation and porosity losses in granular iron columns. J Hazard Mater 68(1–2):1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Morkin M, Devlin JF, Barker JF, Butler BJ (2000) In situ sequential treatment of a mixed contaminant plume. J Contam Hydrol 45(3–4):283–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Orth WS, Gillham RW (1996) Dechlorination of trichloroethene in aqueous solution using Fe0. Environ Sci Technol 30(1):66–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Park J-B, Lee S-H, Lee J-W, Lee C-Y (2002) Lab scale experiments for permeable reactive barriers against contaminated groundwater with ammonium and heavy metals using clinoptilolite (01-29B). J Hazard Mater 95(1–2):65–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Parkhurst DL, Appelo CAJ (1999) User’s guide to Phreeqc (Version 2)—a computer program for speciation, batch-reaction, one-dimensional transport, and inverse geochemical calculations. Water-resources investigations report 99-4259, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4259, Denver, ColoradoGoogle Scholar
  28. Pérez-López R, Nieto JM, de Almodóvar GR (2007) Immobilization of toxic elements in mine residues derived from mining activities in the Iberian Pyrite Belt (SW Spain): laboratory experiments. Appl Geochem 22:1919–1935CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Phillips DH, Gu B, Watson DB, Roh Y, Liang L, Lee SY (2000) Performance evaluation of a zerovalent iron reactive barrier: mineralogical characteristics. Environ Sci Technol 34(19):4169–4176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Puls RW, Blowes DW, Gillham RW (1999) Long-term performance monitoring for a permeable reactive barrier at the U.S. Coast Guard Support Center, Elizabeth City, North Carolina. J Hazard Mater 68(1–2):109–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Roh Y, Lee SY, Elless MP (2000) Characterization of corrosion products in the permeable reactive barriers. Environ Geol 40(1–2):184–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Su C, Puls RW (2003) In situ remediation of arsenic in simulated groundwater using zerovalent iron: laboratory column tests on combined effects of phosphate and silicate. Environ Sci Technol 37(11):2582–2587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vogan JL, Focht RM, Clark DK, Graham SL (1999) Performance evaluation of a permeable reactive barrier for remediation of dissolved chlorinated solvents in groundwater. J Hazard Mater 68(1–2):97–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Waite DT, Desmier R, Melville M, Macdonald B, Lavitt N (2002) Preliminary investigation into the suitability of permeable reactive barriers for the treatment of acid sulfate soils discharge. In: Naftz DL, Morrison SJ, Fuller CC, Davis JA (eds) Handbook of groundwater remediation using permeable reactive barriers: applications to radionuclides, trace metals and nutrients. Academic Press, San Francisco, pp 67–104Google Scholar
  35. Walker PH (1972) Seasonal and stratigraphic controls in coastal floodplain soils. Aust J Soil Res 10:127–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Watzlaf GR, Schroeder KT, Kairies C (2000) Long-term performance of anoxic limestone drains for the treatment of mine drainage. Mine Water Environ 19:98–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Waybrant KR, Ptacek CJ, Blowes DW (2002) Treatment of mine drainage using permeable reactive barriers: column experiments. Environ Sci Technol 36(6):1349–1356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. White I, Melville MD, Wilson BP, Sammut J (1997) Reducing acidic discharges from coastal wetlands in eastern Australia. Wetl Ecol Manage 5(1):55–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zhang P, Tao X, Li Z, Bowman RS (2002) Enhanced perchloroethylene reduction in column systems using surfactant-modified zeolite/zero-valent iron pellets. Environ Sci Technol 36(16):3597–3603CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra N. Golab
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark A. Peterson
    • 2
  • Buddhima Indraratna
    • 3
  1. 1.CRC for Greenhouse Gas TechnologiesCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.ANSTOLucas HeightsAustralia
  3. 3.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia

Personalised recommendations