IIT Guwahati researchers develop new method to mitigate acid mine drainage in north-east India

IIT Guwahati: This is the first study to demonstrate Bioremediation of Acid Mine Drainage from Northeastern Coalfields using Constructed Wetlands.

IIT Guwahati researchers develop new method to mitigate acid mine drainage in north-east India IIT Guwahati Professor Saswati Chakraborty, Department of Civil Engineering along with her research scholar Shweta Singh (Image; Official)
Anu Parthiban | Jun 28, 2022 - 1:45 p.m. IST
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GUWAHATI: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati researchers have developed an efficient sustainable treatment approach to mitigate Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) pollution. They carried out a study of coal mines on the ‘bioremediation’ of AMD in Constructed Wetlands. This is the first study to demonstrate the bioremediation of AMD from the Northeastern Coalfields (NEC) using constructed wetlands.

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Acid Mine Drainage refers to the acidic wastewater generated from coal mines (or any polymetallic mines) containing high amounts of sulfate, iron and various toxic heavy metals.

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“This research provides an efficient sustainable treatment approach to mitigate AMD pollution while addressing the long-term operational sustainability issues encountered in Constructed Wetlands receiving AMD. Furthermore, a biochemical mechanism has been developed to understand the functioning of different fundamental processes that co-occur in Constructed Wetlands,” the institute said.

The key benefits of this research include optimization of parameters with the use of simple organic carbon to provide an effective sustainable solution for the mitigation of AMD pollution.

The research was led by Saswati Chakraborty, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Guwahati, along with her research scholar Shweta Singh who studied the season-wise variation (Monsoon, Pre-Monsoon and Post-Monsoon) of AMD discharge in NEC.

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The research team has conducted a laboratory-scale study in which preliminary findings demonstrated its potential for field-scale applications at the NEC for direct mine drainage.

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“This research developed an experimental methodology for the bioremediation of AMD and recommended optimizing the COD/sulfate ratio for the long-term treatment of AMD in CWs. Results have successfully demonstrated the elimination of high acidity, sulfate and metals. Thus, it will help control water pollution and improve water quality through ecosystem restoration of the region,” as per the official statement.

Highlighting the impact of the research, Saswati Chakraborty said, “The preliminary findings from this research propose an effective strategy to manage the extremely acidic AMD from the NEC, which remains to be a challenging source of water pollution and environmental contamination due to mining activity in this region.”

The study entailed the bioremediation of AMD produced from the NEC, Assam, India and revealed successful application of CW with emphasis on critical factors governing its treatment performance, IIT Guwahati said.

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Speaking about this Research, Shweta Singh said, “The generation of AMD is a perpetual environmental issue from the NEC and to address this concern, we investigated the potential bioremediation approach using nature-based technology - CWs and obtained some very promising results which can be further implemented at field-scale applications by coal mining industries.”

In this study the use of simple and low cost easily available carbon source (lactate) is used for remediation of AMD wastewater. In the CW, sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) had grown using organics like lactate and reduced sulphate to sulphide. This biochemical process consumed proton and wastewater pH increased to 6-6.5. Iron and other soluble metals precipitated as metal sulphide, metal hydroxide in the CW, she added.


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