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Metallic aluminum as a source for ettringite precipitation

Paper from the Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Mine Water Solutions in Extreme Environments held in Vancouver, Canada, April 12-15, 2015. (downloadable PDF)

Authors: Brian Elson and Michael Fallbach, The Water Company, USA; Charles Bryce and Brett Waterman, Freeport-McMoRan, USA

Published by InfoMine Inc. 2015.
ISBN: 978-0-9917905-7-9


Interest in sulfate removal from mine impacted process and groundwater has increased in recent years due to increasing regulatory requirements for sulfate and total dissolved solids (TDS). Multiple groups have investigated sulfate removal by precipitation of ettringite, a calcium aluminum sulfate hydroxide compound. Sourcing of aluminum to form ettringite using salts results in addition of soluble ions to the treated water, replacing one source of TDS, sulfate, with other ions. Several proposed ettringite processes recycle the aluminum as well, but this also results in soluble ions being added to the treated water. The Water Company’s patent pending process uses aluminum metal to form ettringite. The aluminum metal reacts with water at high pH to form the necessary aluminum source without addition of counter ions to the treated water. Freeport-McMoRan and The Water Company have been working together to develop this process using a sulfate impacted groundwater. This new process has the potential to remove sulfates to below 10 ppm. Continuous lab testing to identify the kinetics and reagent consumption is complete. These tests show a strong correlation between aluminum surface area, lime addition, and ettringite formation. The process is ready for pilot plant testing for verification of lab results and further development.

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