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Ingenious method of wastewater treatment developed in East Kazakhstan

Photo courtesy of drclouthier.com Photo courtesy of drclouthier.com

A method for purifying wastewater from heavy metals using diatoms has been developed by researchers of Serikbayev East Kazakhstan State Technical University, Tengrinews reports with a reference to the press service of National Center for Scientific and Technical Information.

Pollution with heavy metals is nearing critical levels in some regions of Kazakhstan. According to the Regional Center for Ecological Security, in 2013, some areas of Ust-Kamenogorsk had a content of cadmium in soil exceeding the maximum allowable concentration (MAC) by 40-60 times, of lead – by 20 times, of copper - by 30-90 times, and of zinc – by 15 times. The zinc content in the water of the rivers Ulba and Irtysh in the city reached 7.3 MAC and that of copper was as high as 7 MAC.

The new water purification method developed by the University is more than welcome in this region. It employs diatom algae, which are widespread in the waters of Eastern Kazakhstan.

They reproduce well in the waters of Kazakhstan and are quite capable of binding salts of mercury, cobalt, manganese, copper and zinc, says Vice-Rector for Science and International Cooperation of the University, Oleg Gavrilenko, Ph.D. in geological-mineralogical sciences. In addition, algal skeleton is capable of binding salts of radioactive elements.

This makes the method more or less cheap as well as productive. Certainly, replacing the chemical methods of wastewater treatment with the algae method is hardly possible. Nevertheless, it can become part of the process, Gavrilenko said.

The technology has been successfully tested and is being introduced at Kazzinc (Kazakh zinc production plant) sewage clearing site. Possibility of using the algae method in settling ponds of concentrating mills is being studied too.

The project was funded within the framework of state scientific and technical program of Kazakhstan.

By Dinara Urazova

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