Impact of temperature on the rate of formation of sulfuric acid in mine tailings



Acid mine drainage (AMD) results from the action of water and air on tailings left from the mining of certain sulfide containing ores. It has caused a great deal of environmental damage in the past, and remains an issue today. This article raises the question of the impact of seasonal temperature variation on the formation of AMD, as well as the impact of global warming on the formation of AMD. Preliminary calculations show that both can have a significant impact on the amount of AMD formed. As such increased ambient temperatures must be taken into account when designing systems to handle AMD. The Arrhenius equation along with literature values for the activation energy was used to make an initial assessment of the impact of temperature. These preliminary calculations show that the impact may be very dramatic from seasonal extremes, and enhanced even further by global warming. Additional work is needed to more accurately predict the relationship between AMD formation and temperature. Nevertheless, even the preliminary work presented here strongly suggests that AMD will increase with either or both of these conditions. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 32: 1155–1157, 2013