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Fractionation and leachability of Fe, Zn, Cu and Ni in the sludge from a sulphate-reducing bioreactor treating metal-bearing wastewater

Kousi, Pavlina, Remoundaki, Emmanouella, Hatzikioseyian, Artin, Korkovelou, Vassiliki, Tsezos, Marios
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.36 pp. 35883-35894
European Union, air, bioprocessing, bioreactors, chemical composition, compliance, copper, crystal structure, fractionation, iron, leaching, mineralogy, nickel, oxidation, pH, sludge, sulfides, wastewater, zinc
This work presents and discusses experimental results on the characterisation and metal leaching potential of a biogenic, metal-rich sulphidic sludge, generated in a sulphate-reducing bioreactor, operated to treat acidic synthetic solutions bearing Fe, Zn, Ni and Cu. The sustainability of the metal removal bioprocess strongly depends on the fate of the sludge. To propose appropriate management practices, a detailed characterisation of the sludge is necessary. The granulometry, chemical composition and mineralogy of the sludge were initially determined. The mobility of the metals was assessed via a modified Tessier experimental procedure. The leachability of the sludge metal content was determined via a standard compliance method (EN 12457-2) and experiments designed to evaluate the effect of pH and time on metal leaching from the sludge. The sludge metal content sums up to 69.5% dw, namely iron (14.8%), zinc (18.7%), nickel (17.7%) and copper (18.2%) and, based on the criteria set by European Union, the sludge is characterised as hazardous and inappropriate for landfilling without any pretreatment. The sludge consists mainly of very fine poorly crystalline aggregates of Fe, Zn, Cu and Ni sulphides. The fine grain size, the poorly crystalline structure and the oxidation of sulphide upon exposure to water/air render the high metal content of the sludge recoverable.