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Field trial of a pulsed limestone diversion well

June 7, 2013

The use of limestone diversion wells to treat acid mine drainage (AMD) is well-known, but in many cases, acid neutralization is not as complete as would be desired. Reasons for this include channeling of the water through the limestone bed, and the slow reaction rate of the limestone gravel. A new approach to improve the performance of the diversion well was tested in the field at the Jennings Environmental Education Center, near Slippery Rock, PA. In this approach, a finer size distribution of limestone was used so as to allow fluidization of the limestone bed, thus eliminating channeling and increasing particle surface area for faster reaction rates. Also, water flow was regulated through the use of a dosing siphon, so that consistent fluidization of the limestone sand could be achieved. Testing began late in the summer of 2010, and continued through November of 2011. Initial system performance during the 2010 field season was good, with the production of net alkaline water, but hydraulic problems involving air release and limestone sand retention were observed. In the summer of 2011, a finer size of limestone sand was procured for use in the system. This material fluidized more readily, but acid neutralization tapered off after several days. Subsequent observations indicated that the hydraulics of the system was compromised by the formation of iron oxides in the pipe leading to the limestone bed, which affected water distribution and flow through the bed. Although results from the field trial were mixed, it is believed that without the formation of iron oxides and plugging of the pipe, better acid neutralization and treatment would have occurred. Further tests are being considered using a different hydraulic configuration for the limestone sand fluidized bed.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2013
Title Field trial of a pulsed limestone diversion well
Authors Philip L. Sibrell, C. Denholm, Margaret Dunn
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70156897
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Leetown Science Center