Characterization of manganese oxide precipitates from Appalachian coal mine drainage treatment systems

Hui Tan, Gengxin Zhang, Peter J. Heaney, Samuel M. Webb, William D. Burgos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The removal of Mn(II) from coal mine drainage (CMD) by chemical addition/active treatment can significantly increase treatment costs. Passive treatment for Mn removal involves promotion of biological oxidative precipitation of manganese oxides (MnOx). Manganese(II) removal was studied in three passive treatment systems in western Pennsylvania that differed based on their influent Mn(II) concentrations (20-150 mg/L), system construction (±inoculation with patented Mn(II)-oxidizing bacteria), and bed materials (limestone vs. sandstone). Manganese(II) removal occurred at pH values as low as 5.0 and temperatures as low as 2 °C, but was enhanced at circumneutral pH and warmer temperatures. Trace metals such as Zn, Ni and Co were removed effectively, in most cases preferentially, into the MnOx precipitates. Based on synchrotron radiation X-ray diffraction and Mn K-edge extended X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy, the predominant Mn oxides at all sites were poorly crystalline hexagonal birnessite, triclinic birnessite and todorokite. The surface morphology of the MnOx precipitates from all sites was coarse and "sponge-like" composed of nm-sized lathes and thin sheets. Based on scanning electron microscopy (SEM), MnOx precipitates were found in close proximity to both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. The greatest removal efficiency of Mn(II) occurred at the one site with a higher pH in the bed and a higher influent total organic C (TOC) concentration (provided by an upstream wetland). Biological oxidation of Mn(II) driven by heterotrophic activity was most likely the predominant Mn removal mechanism in these systems. Influent water chemistry and Mn(II) oxidation kinetics affected the relative distribution of MnOx mineral assemblages in CMD treatment systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-399
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterization of manganese oxide precipitates from Appalachian coal mine drainage treatment systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this