A bioreactor for reacting an aqueous heavy metal and sulfate containing mine drainage solution with sulfate reducing bacteria to produce heavy metal sulfides and reduce the sulfuric acid content of the solution. The reactor is an elongated, horizontal trough defining an inlet section and a reaction section. An inlet manifold adjacent the inlet section distributes aqueous mine drainage solution into the inlet section for flow through the inlet section and reaction section. A sulfate reducing bacteria and bacteria nutrient composition in the inlet section provides sulfate reducing bacteria that with the sulfuric acid and heavy metals in the solution to form solid metal sulfides. The sulfate reducing bacteria and bacteria nutrient composition is retained in the cells of a honeycomb structure formed of cellular honeycomb panels mounted in the reactor inlet section. The honeycomb panels extend upwardly in the inlet section at an acute angle with respect to the horizontal. The cells defined in each panel are thereby offset with respect to the honeycomb cells in each adjacent panel in order to define a tortuous path for the flow of the aqueous solution.
GOVERNMENT CONTRACT RIGHTS
This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. DE-AC22-96EW96405 awarded by the United States Department of Energy, and the Government may have certain rights in this invention.