“Virtual Curtain” Water Treatment

"Virtual Curtain" Water Treatment

One of the key water related aspects of many projects is how to manage waste water. This might include the disposal of abstracted groundwater as a result of mine dewatering or yield from unconventional resource projects (coal seam gas, shale gas etc.) or waste water streams from mineral processing or other industrial activities. Often the quality of these waters is such that extensive treatment is required to enable environmentally safe disposal or reuse, so it is important that a range of treatments are considered early on to ensure that the most appropriate, and cost effective option is implemented. The benefits of thinking about waste water management as part of the overall water management approach for the project (taking a holistic approach) are more than just environmental, there can also be considerable financial benefits. This is particularly the case in areas with water scarcity (i.e. arid areas or areas with high competition for water) where the costs of water supply can be considerable (often prohibitive), and the ability to reuse/recycle water can increase the viability of the project - so long as the costs of treatment are not prohibitive in themselves. Virtual Curtain Ltd and the CSIRO have been collaborating for more than 6 years to develop long term solutions for the remediation and neutralisation of above and below surface acidic and contaminated geologically-complex wastewaters from mining and industry to tolerances suitable for discharge to the natural environment or recycling/reuse. The treatment involves the application of hydrotalcites (a layered double hydroxide mineral, primarily composed of magnesium and aluminium) suitable for:

The potential applications are extensive, including mining, oil and gas (particularly unconventional resource developments) and other industrial ventures at all stages of development from commission through to operation and closure. It is a broad spectrum technique to neutralise acidic wastewater and remove a range of deleterious contaminants including uranium and other radionuclides. Hydrotalcites are a magnesium-aluminium sub class of layered double hydroxide mineral which is both naturally occurring and synthetically produced, with a structure that is in the form of positively charged mixed metal hydroxide layers separated by interlayers that contain water + exchangeable anions. The minerals have the capacity to simultaneously remove a broad suite of cationic and anionic contaminants via co-precipitation during and after formation. The benefits of the Virtual Curtain technology over traditional lime based treatment methods to treat acidic and contaminated waste water include:

Wastewater 1

With increasingly stringent environmental conditions for project development, operation and closure, combined with the ever increasing cost of sourcing water, advanced water treatment options are becoming a critical part of any development which generates waste water streams. The Virtual Curtain system provides a cost effective and simple process which can be used across a wide range of applications, including:

The Virtual Curtain method can also be used as a pre-treatment to reverse osmosis (RO) in areas of environmental sensitivity by rapidly removing contaminants to enhance the efficiency of the RO process. The Virtual Curtain water treatment process, whilst new, has been successful in a range of trials and full scale commercial applications, including:

Wastewater 2

The Virtual Curtain water treatment process is just one of an increasing range of treatment options, however its suitability to a broad range of applications is something which sets it apart from many other treatment processes available. It is important however that when considering waste water treatment options, that it is done so in line with the broader water management requirements and objectives of the specific project to optimise the entire water cycle. Contact Global Hydro to discuss all of your water management requirements. Global Hydro - "Ensuring project success through effective, responsible water management."


About the author Ashley is a hydrogeologist and water management professional, with experience in Australia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China and is a member of the International Association of Hydrogeologists. Ashley started his professional career with the West Australian Government - Department of Water, using regulatory processes and tools in relation to water management for mining and mining related infrastructure projects (railways, roads, ports etc.). Since joining the consulting world Ashley has conducted and managed a range of hydrogeological, groundwater management, and multi-disciplinary (integrated ground and surface water) projects in Australia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan for a range of purposes including water supply, water management and water source protection. you can read others article by authoron the Global Hydro Website -www.globalhydro.com.au- or contact himatenquiries@globalhydro.com.au