"Environment" research area

Can Mining Waste Help Remove Sulfide from Water?

Primary Investigator - Lee PennPrimary InvestigatorLee Penn
Co-Investigators: Alon McCormick, Spencer Bingham (Graduate Scholar)
Industry PartnersBarr Engineering; Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; Natural Resources Research Institute
Award Type: Seed Grant - Graduate Research Scholar

Problem: In Minnesota, excess sulfate in surface water is harmful to wild rice ecosystems. Current remediation techniques transform excess sulfate to sulfide using naturally occurring microbes. Still, the sulfide produced by microbes must be removed from the wastewater before it can be discharged, creating the need for novel sulfide removal methods.

Solution: The Penn Lab will use iron mining waste materials to remove the sulfide from water and produce iron sulfide solids. MnDRIVE researchers will optimize the conditions of iron sulfides formation to favor more stable products. The stability of the product iron sulfide must be optimized to minimize release of sulfur-species into the environment.

Impact: The ability to remediate sulfide from wastewater by producing stable forms of iron sulfide will prevent release of sulfur species into fresh water sources. Using waste from iron mining activities would employ materials that otherwise have little economic value. Results from MnDRIVE researchers will lead to improved safety in the management of sulfide and create economically useful materials.