An Australian firm announced earlier this week that it has developed what it believes is the first known financially and environmentally viable and sustainable red mud waste management process.
Perth’s Earth Sustaining Sciences says its Symbiotic Aquatic BioReactor process (SABR) is capable of treating the caustic by-product of alumina refining, reducing its pH from a highly-basic 13+ (a level in the range of bleach and oven cleaner) to a very slightly acidic 6+ (a strength similar to that of milk or human saliva). The firm says that the process is able to balance at a desired neutral associated level and operate at a substantially higher rate of flow than the designed optimum of a full-scale system.
“Four-years of work has culminated in a proven solution, consisting of multiple SABR process, single and multiple cell bioreactors delivering effective, minimal risk, practical remediation,” explaned ESS founder Wayne Sampey. “Solutions delivering multiple biological manifold reaction patterns have been consistently identified in effective all-natural, localized microbial column systems. Data derived from initial single cell reactor stages was used to construct a multi-stage, multiple-biological manifold system which was continuously fed a 50/50 effluent combination of red mud and caustic processing effluent.”
“If red mud is systematically, all-naturally neutralized utilizing the ESS SABR process, the commodity no longer remains a long-term risk, but available for secondary utilization as a commercial and environmental asset,” he went on. “A progressive function of the SABR process is enhanced all-natural biological solutions liquors utilization in flushing red mud stockpiles and tailings dams, in a continuing stepped remediation process.”
“Furthermore, it is important to realize that the effective process requires minimal pumping and no chemical dosing. The process is self-sustaining, low cost, low energy, self-stabilizing and requires minimal servicing. The SABR process also delivers solutions for acid mine drainage and phosphate processing waste including phosphogypsum stockpile remediation,” Sampey said in closing.