A Novel Approach to Prevention of Acid Rock Drainage (ARD)EPA Contract Number: 68D99054
Title: A Novel Approach to Prevention of Acid Rock Drainage (ARD)
Investigators: Olson, Gregory J.
Small Business: Little Bear Laboratories Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through March 1, 2000
Project Amount: $69,968
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (1999) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Watersheds , SBIR - Water and Wastewater , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
The proposed research will evaluate a novel agent for its potential to: (1) control acid rock drainage (ARD) at its source, and (2) stop ARD once it starts. The agent in low concentrations is a potent toxicant to acidophilic pyrite-oxidizing bacteria. These bacteria play a major role in the formation of ARD from sulfidic mine tailings. The toxicity of the agent appears to be specific to the acidophiles; it has low toxicity to other forms of life. Thus, the agent could be applied safely in the environment. The research will establish the concentration of the agent required to prevent formation of ARD and the concentration of the agent required to stop ARD once it has begun. The effectiveness of the agent in preventing ARD from sulfidic waste rock will be evaluated in laboratory humidity cell tests. Three samples of waste rock will be tested so that the dose of the agent required to prevent ARD can be correlated with the sulfide content (acid-forming potential) of waste rock. Compared with available technologies, the agent may be a much more potent, less expensive, and more easily applied technology for controlling ARD.
The agent has the potential to be a more effective, less expensive, and long-term inhibitor of pyrite-oxidizing bacteria than is offered by available technology. It could be applied both to source material and to existing piles of mine waste that produce ARD. If this agent is effective in preventing ARD, it will be a major breakthrough in the control of ARD, which is threatening the environment and the economic viability of the mining industry worldwide. The agent would help to protect the thousands of miles of streams adversely affected by ARD, and it would significantly lower costs, amounting to billions of dollars worldwide, and increase the effectiveness of treating ARD.