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Release of elements from unprocessed- and processed shale from Kvarntorp: Effect from different pH
Örebro University, School of Science and Technology, Örebro University, Sweden. (MTM)
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The alum shale of Sweden is a sulphidic black shale which was mined for its contents of alum during the 17th-19th centuries. During the thirst half of the 20th century alum shale from Kvarntorp was pyrolysed for refinement of its organic matter.

The refuse from the pyrolysis process were deposited in a deposit area which is today known as Kvarntorpshögen. This deposit is still hot due to on-going oxidation of the organic matter, pyrite oxidation and the neutralisation of acid by limestone. This heat generation prevents percolation of water to any greater extent due to evaporation. Once it cools the deposit will be susceptible to extraction.

Three materials from the Kvarntorp deposit and a block of alum shale were sampled from the Kvarntorp area. These four materials were crushed, sieved and extracted. The extraction experiment was performed at controlled pH which corresponded to dissolution equilibrium of pyrite, carbon dioxide/oxygen, calcite and slaked lime. In the fifth extraction series the material was allowed to set the pH of the water phase. The extraction procedure lasted for 26 days.

Metal content of the four shale materials were analysed by XRF (including contents of sulphur, phosphorous and chloride) and by digestion followed by ICP-MS analysis. Mineralogy of the four materials and the extraction residues were studied by XRD analysis. Metal concentrations of the aqueous samples were analysed by ICP-MS and concentrations of dissolved organic- and inorganic carbon by TOC. Electrical conductivity and concentrations of sulphate was also analysed in aqueous phases with non-manipulated pH.

Sulphate and calcium concentrations were highest in aqueous samples from weathered fines indicating the presence of gypsum. Presence of gypsum was also confirmed by XRD. Gypsum indicates weathering since it is a neutralisation product of calcite and the sulphuric acid generated by pyrite oxidation.

Concentrations of dissolved organic carbon in samples with pH 12.5 were found to be highest from red processed shale and lowest from samples of shale. This indicates different hydrolysis properties or origin of the organic matter in the materials.

The majority of analysed metals had highest solid solution distribution under acidic, i.e. pH 3.0, conditions. Under these conditions it was samples from the relatively non-weathered shale that had the highest release of metals, with a few exceptions.

At pH 12.5 high concentrations of V, As and Mo was extracted from almost all four materials. The red processed shale released the highest percentages of its total contents of V, As and Mo under these conditions; 28 %, 55 % and 61 % respectively. The high release of V, As and Mo from red processed shale was most likely a result from the pyrolysis process. The roasting induced the formation of oxides which then easily forms vanadate, arsenate and molybdate when exposed to water.

Water percolating the Kvarntorp deposit in the future will initially most likely have a near neutral or slightly acidic pH. Lowest concentrations of metals were found in aqueous samples with pH between 5.5-8.5. There is a great risk that the pH of the drainage from the Kvarntorp deposit will in time become acidic due to depletion of buffering capacity. Thus the environmental threat will increase.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 79 p.
Keyword [en]
shale, Kvarntorp, extraction, pH, element, metal, DOC, precipitation, refuse, weathering, sulphate, adsorption
National Category
Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-28628ISRN: ORU-NAT/MIL-AG-2013/0001--SEOAI: diva2:615139
Subject / course
Environmental Science
Life Earth Science
Available from: 2013-04-29 Created: 2013-04-08 Last updated: 2013-04-29Bibliographically approved

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