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Investigation and optimization of passively operated compost-based system for remediation of acidic, highly iron- and sulfate-rich industrial waste water


Dann, AL and Cooper, RS and Bowman, JP, Investigation and optimization of passively operated compost-based system for remediation of acidic, highly iron- and sulfate-rich industrial waste water, Water Research, 43, (8) pp. 2302-2316. ISSN 0043-1354 (2009) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1016/j.watres.2009.02.030


A passively operated multi-stage bioremediation system utilizing composted agricultural waste products and an artificial wetland system was found to be effective for purification of acidic, iron- and sulfate-rich waste water derived from titanium mineral processing. The main microbial players involved in the remediation system processes and the dynamics were investigated; mineral processing waste water-filled sludge dams possessed stable microbial communities that included Acidithiobacillus, Desulfurella, and acidophilic, anaerobic fermenters of the order Bacteroidales. These groups were enriched in a subsequent potato waste-based iron mobilization pre-treatment stage. Within downstream reduction treatment stages ("reduction cells"), compost/straw decomposition and associated sulfur/sulfate and iron reduction were carried out by a complex mix of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. The efficaciousness of the system without replacement of the compost was found to steadily decline following 2 years of operation and corresponded with the reduction cell communities becoming simultaneously more diverse and homogenous. Microcosm-based experiments demonstrated that operational declines were due to unsustained supply of suitable labile carbon sources combined with spatial heterogeneity within the layered design of the reduction stage of the system resulting in inadequate redox conditions. Temperature was not found to be a critical performance factor in the range of 10-25 C. Application of a combined emulsified oil/molasses amendment was found to be highly effective in promoting a microbial community capable of remediating waste water with high iron and sulfate levels. Acidophilic members of the order Bacteroidales were found to be critical in the investigated remediation system, providing organic donors for subsequent metal and sulfur transformations and could have a broader ecological significance than previously suspected.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:microbial community structure, mineral processing, waste water, bioremediation, iron and sulfate reduction, fermentation, compost, TRFLP analysis
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Microbiology
Research Field:Microbial ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Evaluation, allocation, and impacts of land use
UTAS Author:Dann, AL (Dr Alison Dann)
UTAS Author:Bowman, JP (Associate Professor John Bowman)
ID Code:53473
Year Published:2009
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP0560641)
Web of Science® Times Cited:31
Deposited By:Agricultural Science
Deposited On:2008-12-10
Last Modified:2012-11-13

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