Microbiology of fly ash-acid mine drainage co-disposal processes
Kuhn, Eloise M. R.
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The waste products acid mine drainage (AMD), formed during coal mining and fly ash (FA) from coal burning power generation, pose substantial environmental and economic problems for South Africa. Eskom has developed a remediation system employing alkaline FA to neutralize and precipitate heavy metals from toxic acidic AMD streams. The aim of this study was to assess the microbial diversity in and microbial impact on this remediation system. The total microbial diversity was assessed by well-established molecular phylogenetic analyses using 16S rDNA gene sequences. The results obtained from the AMD confirmed the presence of acidophilic organisms, such as Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans (At. ferrooxidans). After co-disposal of FA and AMD, microbial cell growth was not detected and microbial genomic DNA could not be extracted. The absence of microbial communities in the co-disposal phase is beneficial to the continuation of the development of such a co-disposal process. Results of this project will assist in the effective implementation of FA-AMD co-disposal systems, which may improve water quality in effected regions of South-Africa.