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Power To Save: Acid Mine Drainage to Concrete?

HANOVER TOWNSHIP -- There are a lot of different elements that go into making concrete. But mostly, it's water, cement, and gravel. But researchers at the University of Michigan are tapping into a new resource for concrete: acid mine waste.

The Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, known as EPCAMR, shipped 180 gallons of acid mine drainage from boreholes located along Solomon Creek just outside Wilkes-Barre to the University of Michigan.

"Maybe in Ann Arbor, there isn't a whole lot of mine drainage around that we have in abundance here in Pennsylvania," said Robert Hughes, executive director at EPCAMR.

Researchers will test the acid mine drainage to see if it will mix with concrete to help create a more bendable concrete. A substance you could see on bridges and buildings to help withstand things like an earthquake.

Hughes points out that this acid mine drainage was an ideal sample for research because it has a significantly higher concentration of iron.

And if this study is successful, sites like the one at Solomon Creek could go from pumping out waste to potentially pumping quite a bit of cash into the community.

"If there's one thing out here in the coal fields we need, it's more jobs, better innovation and reuse problems like this and turn them into solutions," Hughes added.

Researchers will test the mine discharge over the next month to figure out if it's the right fit for a new type of concrete.

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