Improved passive treatment of acid mine drainage in mushroom compost amended with crab-shell chitin

Caroline E. Newcombe, Rachel Alice Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Crab-shell chitin, which is inherently high in calcium carbonate and nutrients, was tested as a multifunctional, fractional amendment to improve the effectiveness of spent mushroom compost (SMC), which is a low-cost, frequently used, but often underperforming substrate for treating acid mine drainage (AMD). Batch and continuous-flow column tests were used to evaluate different crab-shell/SMC mixtures for their ability to neutralize acidity, reduce sulfate, and remove metals in field-collected AMD. Alkalinity generation and the removal of manganese and sulfate were strongly correlated to the fraction of crab shell in the substrate: the treatment capacity increased from 36.7 L/kg for the traditional 90% SMC/10% limestone substrate up to 428 L/kg for 100% crab shell. The costs associated with adding crab shell to SMC were found to be minimal relative to the resulting improvement in water quality. Based on these data, it appears that a small fraction of crab shell (5-15%) does not provide a significant benefit over traditional compost and limestone substrates, but that larger fractions (50-100%) are much more efficient than traditional SMC substrates, especially for the removal of metals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-626
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering, ASCE
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Engineering


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