RESEARCH PROJECT TOPIC ON POTENTIAL OF CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS TO TREAT DRAINAGE FROM BAUXITE PROCESSING WASTE DISPOSAL AREAS
The potential to remove Al, Mo, V, As and Ga from alkaline (pH 8.0–8.6) drainage originating from seawater neutralized bauxite processing residue storage areas using constructed wetland technology was studied in a laboratory study. Bauxite processing residue sand, bauxite, alum water treatment sludge and blast furnace slag were investigated as potential active filter materials. Al was shown to precipitate as Al(OH)3 in the pH range 7.0–8.0 in aqueous solution and 6.0–8.5 in the presence of silica sand particles that provided a surface for nucleation. For V As Mo and Ga, adsorption to the surfaces of the adsorbents decreased greatly at elevated pH values (>pH 6–9). Water treatment sludge and bauxite had a greater ability to adsorb V, As and Mo at high pH (As and V at pH 7–9 and Mo at pH 5–7) than processing sand and slag. Adsorption isotherm data for As and V onto all four adsorbent than processing sand and slag. Adsorption isotherm data for As and V onto all four adsorbent materials fitted equally well to the Langmuir and Freundlich equations but for Ga, and to a lesser extent Mo, the Freundlich equation gave higher R2 values. For all four ions, the maximum adsorption capacity (Langmuir value qmax) was greatest for water treatment sludge. Bauxite adsorbed more Mo, Ga and V than residue sand or slag. The pseudo-second order equation gave a better fit to the experimental kinetic data than the pseudo-first order model suggesting that chemisorption rather than diffusion/exchange was the rate limiting step to adsorption. It was concluded that water treatment sludge and bauxite were the most effective adsorbents and that for effective removal of the target ions the pH of the drainage water needs to be decreased to 6.0–7.0.