A new project aims to improve the efficiency of mine water treatment schemes.
The Coal Authority, which manages Britain’s coal mines and employs contractors to clean water cascades and pipework across its 75 mine water treatment sites, is working with scientists from the University of Sheffield on the project.
The manual ‘wash and brush-ups’ are needed to prevent a build-up of iron solids – or ochre – that are produced as part of the treatment process.
The ochre clogs up the system and reduces the effectiveness of the treatment scheme that pump the water out from disused coal mines.
New super hydrophobic materials that aim to repel the ochre and prevent it from clogging up the treatment systems are being trialled.
Dr Chris Satterley, Technical Research and Development Manager for the Coal Authority said: “It worked very well in the laboratory but now we need to see if it just as effective out in the open and on site.”
The mine water treatment schemes run by the Coal Authority treat around 122 billion litres of water every year and prevent 4,000 tonnes of iron solids from entering local watercourses and also protect important sources of drinking water for local communities.