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Reduction of arsenic and related elements in groundwater: a test case from hungary.

Development of state-of-the-art environmental technology
using zeolites from laboratory scale to pilot plant to
reduce arsenic and related elements in groundwater.
testing and implementation at a site in mako, hungary.

The permitted concentration of arsenic in groundwater is currently 50 micrograms/1, and will soon be reduced to 10 micrograms/1 under a new EU Directive, because of its high toxicity. Nevertheless, groundwater in large regions in Europe is affected by arsenic contents which exceed current norms. The arsenic generally comes from natural sources, caused by a combination of (hydro)geological factors. Water management, sustainability of water resources and improvement of water quality are major targets for EU planning in the coming years. Clearly the introduction of technology to reduce arsenic and related elements in groundwater to below new proposed norms would have a major impact on water supply and management throughout Europe. The groundwater in the S.E. region of HUNGARY is badly affected by arsenic contamination, where 20% of water is unsuitable for use. The arsenic flows into HUNGARY through rivers and streams which come from the Carpathian mountains in ROMANIA, and is purely natural in origin. The region around the town of Mako, 10 km from the Romanian border, is one of the worst affected areas, with boreholes yielding water with 250-300 microgram/1 arsenic. This project scales up environmental technology which has been developed in the laboratory, to a pilot plant which can be tested under working conditions at Mako. Zeolites are known for their Cation Exchange Capacity to remove heavy metals from water. Anions can also be extracted, when specific zeolites have been conditioned or modified for this purpose, as has recently been demonstrated with fluoride. The same process has now been demonstrated at laboratory scale for arsenates and other elements. In combination with oxianionic resins (e.g. IRA 850), treated clays and organic materials. The treated w ater will satisfy the new norm of 10 microgram/1 for arsenic. While standard zeolite technology uses beds of pellets, monolithic zeolite bodes are now employed in fixed form for arsenic reduction, eliminating the abrasion wear associated with pellet beds. This project, involving Dutch, Hungarian and Danish partners, develops laboratory technology for arsenic reduction through pilot scale to a pre-commercial stage in the following steps: Definition Phase - optimization of process at laboratory scale, focusing on conditioning of starting materials, regeneration process and scaling up to bench scale - determination of the most suitable test site - design of pilot scale water treatment plant capable of treating up to 10 cubic metres per hour. Implementation Phase - construction of pilot at Mako, at test site defined in first phase - continuous testing of pilot for a 12-month period - evaluation and further optimization of pilot based on results of testing - integration into water management policy for Mako region - market analysis for HUNGARY and other European countries - pre-feasibility of a commercial product. In addition to evaluating the pilot as a stand-alone unit for general use where groundwater contains a high level of arsenic, a major aim is to integrate the technology into the water management scheme for the region around Mako, where water supply and demand, quality assessment and use of alternative sources will play an important role. Keywords: environmental, water purification, zeolites.
Acronym: 
AQUACLEAN
Project ID: 
1 904
Start date: 
01-07-1998
Project Duration: 
72months
Project costs: 
3 550 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.