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Selenium Treatment of Mine Water Effluent in a Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR)

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A pilot study was conducted to evaluate Selenium (Se) removal from a surface coal mine effluent stream by a biological fluidized bed reactor (FBR). FBR treatment technology is well proven for nitrate and perchlorate removal and utilizes heterotrophic facultative bacteria that use oxidized selenium species as electron acceptors and reduce them to elemental Se under anoxic/anaerobic conditions. The FBR pilot demonstrated consistent dissolved Se reduction to below the required NPDES discharge limits (4.7 μg/L monthly average limit and 8.2 μg/L daily maximum) during eight weeks of steady-state operations. However, the average total Se was 11.6 μg/L, which is above the discharge limit. Tertiary treatment (e.g., media filtration, clarification, etc.) of the FBR effluent will be required to remove the Se-containing suspended solids to achieve compliance for total Se. Full-scale design also would require influent heating to maintain the minimum reactor temperature in the range of 50 to 55 °F during winter months and a tertiary treatment step to reduce the residual excess soluble effluent biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) to acceptable discharge levels. Results of the pilot study were used to define general design parameters such as hydraulic retention time (HRT), electron donor (organic carbon) dosage, nutrient requirements, and sludge production for full-scale FBR design.
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Keywords: Selenium; anoxic/anaerobic biological treatment; chemical oxygen demand (COD); fluidized bed reactor; mine effluent; selenate; selenite

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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