The Wheal Jane wetlands model for bioremediation of acid mine drainage
Whitehead, P., Cosby, B. J. and Prior, H. (2005) The Wheal Jane wetlands model for bioremediation of acid mine drainage. Science of the Total Environment, 338 (1-2). pp. 125-135. ISSN 0048-9697
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2004.09.012
Acid mine drainage (AMD) is a widespread environmental problem associated with both working and abandoned mining operations. As part of an overall strategy to determine a long-term treatment option for AMD, a pilot passive treatment plant was constructed in 1994 at Wheal Jane Mine in Cornwall, UK. The plant consists of three separate systems, each containing aerobic reed beds, anaerobic cell and rock filters, and represents the largest European experimental facility of its kind. The systems only differ by the type of pretreatment utilised to increase the pH of the influent minewater (pH <4): lime dosed (LD), anoxic limestone drain (ALD) and lime free (LF), which receives no form of pretreatment. Historical data (1994-1997) indicate median Fe reduction between 55% and 92%, sulphate removal in the range of 3-38% and removal of target metals (cadmium, copper and zinc) below detection limits, depending on pretreatment and flow rates through the system. A new model to simulate the processes and dynamics of the wetlands systems is described, as well as the application of the model to experimental data collected at the pilot plant. The model is process based, and utilises reaction kinetic approaches based on experimental microbial techniques rather than an equilibrium approach to metal precipitation. The model is dynamic and utilises numerical integration routines to solve a set of differential equations that describe the behaviour of 20 variables over the 17 pilot plant cells on a daily basis. The model outputs at each cell boundary are evaluated and compared with the measured data, and the model is demonstrated to provide a good representation of the complex behaviour of the wetland system for a wide range of variables. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V/ All rights reserved.