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Buffering of alkaline steel slag leachate across a natural wetland

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Will Mayes, Professor Paul Younger, Jon Aumonier


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Buffering of high-pH (> 12) steel slag leachate is documented across a small, natural calcareous wetland. The alkaline leachate is supersaturated with respect to calcite upstream of the wetland (SIcalcite values +2.3) and becomes less saturated with progress across the wetland, to SIcalcite values of +0.27 at the wetland outlet. Reduction in pH across the wetland (to around pH 8 at the wetland outlet) was observed to be more pronounced over summer months, possibly due to increased microbial activity, possibly further assisted by greater flow baffling by emergent vegetation. Calculated calcite precipitation rates downstream of the leachate source, estimated from hydrochemical data, flow, and surface area, were on the order of 0.4-15 g m(-2) day(-1), while direct measurements (using immersed limestone blocks) showed calcite precipitation values in the range 3-10 g m(-2) day(-1). Precipitation rate was highest in the pH range where the carbonate ion is a dominant constituent of sample alkalinity (pH 9.5-11) and at the locations where wetland biota became established downstream of the leachate emergence. These data provide valuable insights into the potential for using constructed wetlands for the passive treatment of high pH steel slag leachates.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mayes WM, Younger PL, Aumônier J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Science and Technology

Year: 2006

Volume: 40

Issue: 4

Pages: 1237-1243

ISSN (print): 1382-3124

ISSN (electronic):


DOI: 10.1021/es051304u


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