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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353


VADAPALLI, V.R. Kumar et al. Neutralization of acid mine drainage using fly ash, and strength development of the resulting solid residues. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2008, vol.104, n.7-8, pp.317-322. ISSN 1996-7489.

Acid mine drainage (AMD) from a South African coal mine was neutralized with fly ash (FA) from a local power station. An immediate increase in pH and subsequent decrease in the electrical conductivity (EC) values were observed with the addition of FA. A pH buffering region was observed for all the AMD:FA ratios investigated. This was attributed to precipitation and hydrolysis of the main AMD constituents such as Al and Fe and adsorption of the precipitates upon the ash particles. A high percentage of major, minor and trace elements and SO42- attenuation was achieved after contact of AMD with FA in solution; this removal depended on the final pH of the product water. Most of the contaminants were removed to acceptable levels in one simple procedure by contacting the AMD with FA in suitable ratios. Solid residues (SR) recovered from neutralization reactions were tested for unconfined compressive strength and elastic modulus in order to assess their suitability as backfill material. Strength testing was carried out for 410 days with and without the addition of ordinary Portland cement. The SR with a pozzolanic binder added gained 300% greater strength than without, both of which increased in strength over time. The implementation of this FA treatment process would not only be environmentally beneficial but also would be to the advantage of coal mines and power stations as a way of constructively using the large volumes of waste that they generate.

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