Harmful metals not readily detoxified naturally are discharged from numerous industrial activities and pose lasting environmental hazards requiring expensive remediation efforts. This project targets profitable dilute metal removal and reclamation. Creating an economic driver for metal contamination mitigation improves human health by promoting environmental cleanups and stopping metal toxin discharge. This is particularly valuable for the many abandoned mines leaking toxic Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) Nation-wide and for which no economic incentive to correct presently exists (i.e. left to Superfund cleanups). Objectives: This work's long term goal is to change the environmental paradigm so waste is treated as a resource. The patent-pending platform technology was shown capable of profitable dilute copper recovery and a new variation for greatly expanding the technology's utility was recently validated. Here this new core technology variant will be used to profitability remove iron (a predominant contaminant) from Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) and recover it as a high- value product widely used in a variety of number of industrial processes. Expanding the target technology range of utility will facilitate market entry and magnify its overall positive impact.
Specific Aims : Phase I goals include - Demonstrate the removal of dilute iron from synthetic ARD using the technology. Demonstrate the target high-value product recovery and generation from iron. Demonstrate conversion of dilute iron in synthetic ARD into the target high-value product. Test technology performance trends with ARD and select preferred operation parameters. Modify 10 GPM copper recovery prototype for iron removal - test at Superfund ARD site. Research Design &Methods: The proposed aims will be accomplished as follows: A 0.5 GPM bench-top ARD treatment cell incorporating the new concept will be constructed. Standard electrochemical laboratory batch and flow-through controlled voltage tests treating synthetic and real ARD will establish the technology performance trends. The targeted iron halve reaction progress will be monitored spectroscopically. Iron recovery &conversion, ARD treatment rate, system power consumption, plus physical and performance stability will be determined as a function of key operating parameters. Financial modeling using operating/performance trends estimates scenario treatment costs. Benefits: The targeted ARD iron removal improves traditional treatment and stretches tax- payer dollars. It defrays and reduces costs by lessening treatment loads and providing revenue.

Public Health Relevance

Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) at abandoned mine sites contaminates thousands of miles of waterways and associated watersheds and is costly to mitigate. This project will improve public health by validating a new way to profitability remove iron from ARD and recycle it as a marketable high-value product widely used in industrial processes. By targeting iron, typically the most prevalent metal in ARD, the process developed here will find broad utility, have a significant societal impact, and provide excellent taxpayer return on investment.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IMST-A (12))
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Henry, Heather F
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Blue Planet Strategies, LLC
United States
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