The University of Michigan is conducting an interesting study that involves developing a more durable concrete using raw acid mine drainage from abandoned mines in Northeast Pennsylvania. The research is focused on whether the impacted water, taken from boreholes in Solomon Creek, could be used in a “mixture for bendable concrete that can withstand four times the amount of pressure than regular concrete.”
Haoliang Wu, a Ph.D. student at the U of M, contacted the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) to get about 180 gallons of the water shipped to the university’s laboratory. The executive director of EPCAMR, Robert Hughes, says the research team wants to use the mind drainage in concrete to build roads, bridges and highways. He explains, “They don’t have any raw mine drainage in Michigan that meets the kind of chemistry and criteria that we have here in the water in Solomon Creek coming from the boreholes.”
In addition the concrete will be tested to see if it can better protect against rusting and cracking. The EPCAMR is also excited to learn if the acid mine water is a good fit for the experimental concrete as it could lead to a new partnership with the university and a beneficial way to reuse mine drainage in Pennsylvania.
A more durable concrete also means bridges and roads would have a greater lifespan and be more sustainable. Furthermore, Hughes is excited at the prospect that something such as the acid mine drainage that has been a pollutant for the area could be a reusable resource in the future. They have plenty of impacted waterways as over 5,500 miles of streams have had run-off from the mines and the group has been trying to find ways to clean up the polluted streams.
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