Acid mine drainage may be the answer for bendable, more durable concrete

Updated May 1, 2017

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The Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) in Ashley donated approximately 180 gallons of acid mine drainage from Solomon Creek boreholes in Hanover Township to the University of Michigan to help with its research into a bendable, more durable concrete, The Times-Tribune reports.

Robert Hughes, executive director of EPCAMR, told the news agency he hopes to form a partnership with the university regarding the research effort that “could lead to yet another way to reuse mine drainage here in Northeastern Pennsylvania for a beneficial use.”

Haoliang Wu, a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, contacted EPCAMR with the desire to test raw acid mine drainage samples in a laboratory with Professor Victor C. Li for use in a mixture for bendable concrete, which can withstand four times more pressure than regular concrete and has a longer lifespan.

“They want to be able to utilize it for their roads and bridges and highways out there,” Hughes told the news agency. “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.”

Hughes is anxious to learn the results from the tests. “If it becomes a composite mix at some point down the road, maybe there will be some use for it here in Pennsylvania,” he told the news agency. “It might be a way for us to start looking at mine drainage as a commodity and as a product that could be a reusable resource, as opposed to just being a pollutant to the streams. In Pennsylvania, there are over 5,500 miles of streams impacted by abandoned mine drainage. We are trying to find solutions. This could be just another one in the back pocket of what we’re working on in the region to try to find ways to clean up our polluted streams.”