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Assessment of a UASB reactor for the removal of sulfate from acid mine water

Rodriguez, R.P., Oliveira, G.H.D., Raimundi, I.M., Zaiat, M.
International biodeterioration & biodegradation 2012 v.74 pp. 48-53
acid mine drainage, carbon, chemical oxygen demand, digestion, ethanol, inoculum, oxidation, pH, poultry, slaughterhouses, sludge, sulfates, tap water, upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor, uranium, Brazil
A bench-scale Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) reactor was used to study the treatment of acid mine drainage through the biological reduction of sulfate. The reactor was fed with acid mine drainage collected at the Osamu Utsumi uranium mine (Caldas, MG, Brazil) and supplemented with ethanol as an external carbon source. Anaerobic granular sludge originating from a reactor treating poultry slaughterhouse wastewater was used as the inoculum. The reactor's performance was studied according to variations in the chemical oxygen demand (COD)/SO₄ ²⁻ ratio, influent dilution and liquid-phase recirculation. The digestion of a dilution of the acid mine drainage resulted in a 46.3% removal of the sulfate and an increase in the effluent pH (COD/SO₄ ²⁻ = 0.67). An increase in the COD/SO₄ ²⁻ ratio to 1.0 resulted in an 85.6% sulfate reduction. The reduction of sulfate through complete oxidation of the ethanol was the predominant path in the reactor, although the removal of COD was not greater than 68% in any of the operational stages. The replenishment of the liquid phase with tap water positively affected the reactor, whereas the recirculation of treated effluent caused disequilibrium and decreased efficiency.