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UPC: C/ Jordi Girona 31, (08034 - Barcelona) - IDAEA: C/ Jordi Girona 18-26, (08034 - Barcelona)

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Formación, cursos, eventos y seminarios

The role of sulfate and pH in Rare Earth Elements sorption onto  basaluminite: surface complexation modeling


Ponente: Alba Lozano . Estudiante PhD

Lugar: Departamento de Ing. Civil y Ambiental     Aula: D2 Aula CIHS

Hora: 12:15h

Día: Jueves 10 Enero

Rare Earth Elements (REE) comprises the group of lanthanides plus Yttrium and Scandium. Nowadays REE are considered Critical Raw Materials: whereas REE have become important for modern technologies, a high risk of supply exists. However, Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), which is an environmental concern, contains REE concentrations several orders of magnitude higher than the rest of natural waters. AMD neutralization systems cause REE retention into basaluminite (Al4SO4OH10·5H2O) at pH is higher than 5 and sorption mechanism is proposed as responsible for the process. The objective of the present work is to tudy adsorption of REE plus yttrium and scandium onto synthetic basaluminite over a pH range of 4-7 at room conditions either in absence or presence of sulfate in solution. Experimental results showed REE sorption onto basaluminite is strongly dependent on the pH, starting at pH 5 and increasing with sulfate in solution. REE distribution coefficients, defined as Kd = [REE sorbed]/[REE solution] showed an HREE enrichment with respect to LREE. Experimental results were modeled using a simple Surface Complexation Model (SCM) considering mass law equations where the strong aqueous complexation of REE (M) with sulfate is taken into account: MSO4+ + XOH 
= XOMSO4 + H+. MSO4+ is the aqueous complex which adsorbs as monodentate ligand by proton exchange. Sorption edges and distribution coefficients were predicted in the pH range 4-7 using the surface complexation constants calculated from experimental results. Electrostatic term was not involved due to the insensitivity to ionic strength variation and the resultant neutral surfaces. Stability constants of REE adsorption 
onto this basaluminite has been calculated for the first time taking up a new database of surface complexation constants for this mineral. Complementary, local environment of Y surface complex onto basaluminite 
was characterized using extended X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy (EXAFS), indicating the existence of a monodentate inner sphere. Both experimental and model results give a comprehensive behavior of REE into basaluminite.

Towards a passive treatment of arsenic-rich Acid Mine Drainage  (AMD) by biological iron and arsenic oxidation


AUTOR: Lidia Fernández. Idaea

LUGAR: Departamento de Ing. Civil y Ambiental. Modulo D2 Aula 001-Cihs

HORARIO: 12:15h

DIA: Jueves 20 de Diciembre de 2018 

Acid Mine Drainages (AMD) are produced by sulfuric tailings from mining of metal ores. They are characterized by high contents of toxic elements like arsenic. One efficient and economical solution for the treatment of 
As in these tailings could be the use of a passive method based on iron and arsenic bacterial oxidation, and the subsequent precipitation of these elements in a stable form. The objective of my PhD thesis was to better understand the environmental and operational factors controlling the efficiency of As removal processes. A continuous-flow pilot approach was implemented in order to better reproduce the real treatment conditions. This study was first performed in a bench-scale bioreactor with controlled conditions (temperature, light, flow, residence time and water height). Then, it was performed in a field-scale bioreactor installed in situ, reproducing a passive treatment in real conditions. These devices were fed with As-rich AMD waters from the ancient mine of Carnoulès (Gard, France). Water and bioprecipitate properties were monitored in both devices, especially the redox speciation of iron and arsenic. This monitoring was held for different environmental and operational conditions. Iron and arsenic speciation in liquid and solid phases was measured by different analytical techniques such as HPLC-ICP-MS, EXAFS and XANES. Mineral identification was made by XRD analysis, while microbiological characterization was made by ARISA, high-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA gene, and aioA gene  quantification. Results from the lab-scale experiments evidenced the effects of the different operational parameters (water height, hydraulic retention time and the presence/absence of a floating film) on the treatment performance, as well as on the microbiology and mineralogy of the produced bioprecipitates. The field device was used to test the treatment performance under fluctuating environmental conditions (variability of the physico-chemistry of the feed water and of the temperature) and to gain new knowledge about the evolution of the bioprecipitates during six months of treatment. All the knowledge acquired in this PhD thesis could serve as a basis for the design of an arsenic removal stage in AMD treatment processes.

Evaporitic aquifer structure identification: inverse stochastic approach





Lugar: UPC-Departamento de Ingeniería Civil y Ambiental (Módulo D2) Aula CIHS, Planta Baja

Horario: 12:15h

Días: 29 de noviembre





The characterization of the spatial variability of aquifer attributes is crucial in subsurface hydrology where well-organized geological bodies or structures with high permeabilities can form strong preferential channels that can potentially concentrate flow and drive contaminant migration. Such preferential channels dramatically control evaporitic geological systems with well developed wormholes at different scales. The identification of these features is seen crucial for instant in the aquifers of the Central Andes, where the hosted brine is susceptible to lithium exploitation for the generation of future car batteries. Stochastic inversion of the spatial variability of transmissivity in groundwater models can potentially identify geological structures depending on the type and quality of information provided. We investigate whether these methods are capable to describe wormholes as well as small and large high permeability structures in a Salar basin of the Central Andes. Data used come from a sequence of several large-scale pumping tests continuously monitored in numerous observation wells, leading to cross information. 


I will mainly focus on:

              -       The description of the long-term large-scale hydraulic test performed

-       The methodology applied for the data filtering process

-       The results of the stochastic inversion and the comparison with independent data

Seminar: Challenges in characterizing submarine groundwater discharge across scales




Professor: Holly Michael (University of Delaware)

Lugar: Aula CIHS. Departamento de Ing. Civil y ambiental (D2)

Horario: 12:30h

Días: 22 de noviembre




The physical and chemical processes of groundwater flow and solute transport in coastal systems are a primary control on chemical fluxes between land and sea. These fluxes sustain ecosystems and promote

biogeochemical cycling, they change the chemistry of the ocean over geologic time, and they contribute to worldwide problems such as seawater intrusion and estuarine eutrophication. Exchanges occur over

diverse scales, and often require a range of methods for quantification, across multiple disciplines. Examples of these exchange processes and approaches to quantification will be discussed. These include

hydrological-biological-geochemical linkages in a Delaware saltmarsh, dependence of salinity and SGD on geologic structure, and small-scale measurement to global-scale estimation of benthic exchange.



Curso de Geoestadística

Profesor: Xavier Sánchez Vila

Lugar: Aula CIHS. Departamento de Ing. Civil y ambiental (D2)

Horario: 15-17h

Días: del 19 al 21 de noviembre


Curso de geoestadística del plan de estudios

1) Variabilidad natural. Introducción a las variables regionalizadas

2) El variograma. Análisis estructural. Muestra de variograma. Estimación de variogramas

3) Métodos de estimación: El krigeado. Krigeado puntual: simple y ordinario. Krigeado por bloques, Krig. con deriva externa. Krigeado universal y residual. CoKrigeado

4) El método Monte Carlo. Simulación condicional. Simulación de métodos

SGEMS: Análisis Estadístico y variograma
SGEMS: Kriging, Xvalid

Physical, geochemical and microbial parameters driving the improvement of water quality in Managed Aquifer Recharge



Programa de Doctorado en Ingeniería del Terreno
Thesis in Geothecnical Engineering and Geo-Sciences will be defended

"Physical, geochemical and microbial parameters driving the improvement of water quality in Managed Aquifer Recharge".

Carme Barba Ferrer

Thesis advisors: Dr. Albert Folch / Dr. Francisco Javier Sánchez

The defense will take place:  friday, november 16th 2018, 11:00

UPC, Campus Nord
Building C1 . Classroom: 002
C/Jordi Girona, 1-3
08034 Barcelona



Worldwide water demand has been increasing over time, mainly due to population growth and society development. In addition, climate change is causing a significant alteration of the periodicity and intensity of precipitation and climate related events. All this implies significant challenges for a sustainable exploitation of water resources specially during water scarcity periods.
Therefore, Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) represents a feasibly solution to deal with future water management challenges through the storage of available water in aquifers.
The present dissertation is focused on the study of microbial, biogeochemical and physical processes related to MAR ponds, regarding both quantity and quality aspects. The knowledge about these processes has allowed to identify key issues affecting the correct operation of infiltration ponds, laying the foundations for the optimization of quantity and quality targets.
Two different sites in Llobregat River Basin were chosen as a investigation framework.
The first part of this thesis was developed in Sant Vicenç dels Horts MAR system (Barcelona), where an innovative treatment for emerging contaminants had been proved successfully. A reactive layer was put in the bottom of infiltration pond, promoting different redox conditions below the pond and enhancing the removal of dissolved organic matter as well as emergent organic contaminants. In this thesis, further work has been carried out, by investigating the role of microbial community in this removal, by means of a microbial fingerprinting study between two different scenarios. Which were (1) when no-recharge was present and (2) during a long recharge period. The microbial fingerprinting study confirmed that microbial diversity during recharge period fitted in Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis approach. Furthermore, sequencing of prominent bands evidenced the presence of principally degradative-like microorganisms during recharge. A multivariate statistical analysis including hydrochemical, soil grain-size distribution, operational and microbial variables was also performed. Most relevant variables affecting microbial populations were identified. Likewise, the correlations between some microbial prints in the system revealed the presence of some classes and species involved in biodegradation pathways.
The second investigation was focused on the study of redox processes from the infiltration pond to the aquifer, passing through the vadose zone. The study was placed in Castellbisbal MAR system (Barcelona). This facility has a conventional surface infiltration pond without the effect of the reactive layer. The infiltration path was widely monitored and four sampling campaigns were carried out in four different moments along a one-year study.  Results from in situ redox potential measurements, temperature evolution, operating conditions (water levels, flow rate and infiltration rate), characterization of the organic matter and hydrochemical composition of water were collected and analyzed. Especially, operating conditions and redox potential, where it was observed that evolution in the first meter of the infiltration profile had been related to clogging development in the pond bottom.
Finally, results from monitoring tasks were used as the basis to construct a flow and heat transport model simulating recharge process. The flow model included the decrease of hydraulic conductivity caused by clogging periods. In addition, a heat transport model was capable to calculate the modifications of hydraulic conductivity due to temporal temperature evolution. Taking into account results of heat transport model, two batch-type biogeochemical models were suggested to explain redox processes in winter and summer scenarios.  Furthermore, models were capable to explain the fate of the different fractions of dissolved organic matter, and the corresponding change of degradation rates due to temperature changes amongst different scenarios.

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