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Environmental Impacts of Acid Rock Drainage Remediation in a Coal Waste Pile: An Experimental and Hydro-Geochemical Modeling Approach

Plaza Vera, Fernando (2018) Environmental Impacts of Acid Rock Drainage Remediation in a Coal Waste Pile: An Experimental and Hydro-Geochemical Modeling Approach. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The mining-related acid rock drainage (ARD) constitutes a serious type of pollution that causes widespread degradation of water resources in regions with mining activity. Despite of a large number of research activities carried out on this topic, studies about ARD passive remediation have shown various existing issues that require further investigation. For instance, what long-term impacts will the remediation techniques have? Is there an optimal content of the reactive material that should be applied in the field? What impacts will the hydrological processes have on the ARD remediation techniques at the watershed scale?
To investigate these issues, a comprehensive and systematic approach is developed through this dissertation research work in which laboratory experiments (> 3 years), complemented with field measurements (> 5 years), and hydro-geochemical modeling have been combined to explore the effectiveness and long-term impacts of a remediation technique -- alkaline clay (AC), an industrial waste, used as the remediation material in coal refuse (CR) waste piles. Our study yielded the following main findings: 1) AC is an effective and environmentally sustainable material for passive ARD remediation, maintaining a neutral pH and immobilizing metals/metalloids; 2) There is a range for the mixing ratio between the amount of AC and CR to achieve an optimal or close to optimal remediation effectiveness; 3) The appropriate depth for the amended layer was determined and it was found to be mostly constrained by the root zone depth; 4) Complementary strategies such as a vegetated cover and a saturated sand layer are highly beneficial; 5) The utilization of a sophisticated hydro-geochemical model allowed to investigate the remediation effectiveness and its long-term performance at a watershed scale, making possible the assessment inside and outside the coal waste pile ; and 6) Both the laboratory experiments and modeling results show that the proposed remediation design can lead to the total alkalinity in the system exceeding the total acidity over a long time period.
In summary, this study provides valuable new insights through three defined stages (i.e., laboratory experiments, field measurements and modeling) to demonstrate the effectiveness and sustainability of the proposed remediation approach.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Plaza Vera, Fernandofjp9@pitt.edufjp90000-0003-3126-7931
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLiang, Xuxuliang@pitt.eduxuliang
Committee MemberNg,
Committee MemberCapo, Rosemaryrcapo@pitt.edurcapo
Committee MemberLin, Jeen-Shangjslin@pitt.edujslin
Date: 25 September 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 July 2018
Approval Date: 25 September 2018
Submission Date: 14 June 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 190
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Civil and Environmental Engineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: pyrite oxidation, metal immobilization, acid neutralization, hydro-geochemical modeling
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2018 15:27
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2018 15:27

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  • Environmental Impacts of Acid Rock Drainage Remediation in a Coal Waste Pile: An Experimental and Hydro-Geochemical Modeling Approach. (deposited 25 Sep 2018 15:27) [Currently Displayed]


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