Remediation of Mine Tailings by Nano-Scale Zero-Valent Iron
Snyder, James E.
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The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the potential ability of nano-scale zerovalent iron (nZVI) to remediate multiple metal contaminants, specifically in the context of mine tailings. The project began by adopting techniques reported on by investigators researching the remediation effectiveness on metal contaminants of nZVI within the framework of civil engineering applications, such as groundwater treatment (Karabelli et al, 2008). This phase of the project saw the treatment of laboratory prepared samples of copper contaminated waters (at 10, 30, 50 and 100 ppm) by the addition of unstabilized nZVI. Results showed that all but the 100 ppm samples were effectively cleared of nearly all metal contamination following treatment additions of 1 mL nZVI to 50 mL of sample water. The second phase of the project sought to expand on this success by subjecting laboratory prepared water samples containing multiple metal contaminants to the same dose on nZVI. A collection of metal contaminants, known as the Arctic Suite, containing arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, nickel, lead and zinc, was made up as contaminated waters (at 1, 3, 5, and 10 ppm concentrations) and was tested for nZVI remediation. Results showed that only the 10 ppm samples were not effectively remediated and furthermore showed preferential treatment of arsenic, chromium and lead instead of an even distribution of treatment amongst all metal contaminants present. The final phase of the project saw the testing of contaminated waters produced from five mine tailings, acquired from separate sources, by the same dose of nZVI as in the first two phases of the project. Results showed that where contaminant metals were present some remediation effect did occur. However, an inability to produce highly contaminated leachates from the mine tailings meant that no trends in nZVI remediation effectiveness could be determined with any certainty.