Mineral Processing Residue Use as Substrate in a Modular
Engineered Wetland for Wastewater Treatment
Laura A. Wendling
Received: 10 March 2017 /Accepted: 3 June 2017 /Published online: 23 June 2017
Crown Copyright 2017
Abstract Safeguarding the water quality of Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, is
essential for long-term regional water resource sustainability. The use of locally-available
mineral processing residues as reactive substrate in engineered wetlands may provide a cost-
effective treatment alternative for mixed agricultural and domestic wastewaters entering
Poyang Lake. In this study, Chinese iron- and steel-making slags and a titanium mineral
processing residue with high nutrient removal capacity were identified in laboratory experi-
ments. A pilot-scale modular wetland system consisting of free water surface, and vertical and
horizontal subsurface flow units, all planted with locally-available vegetation, was constructed
at the Poyang Lake Modelling Experiment and Research Base in Jiangxi Province. Assessment
of nutrient removal efficiency and effluent water quality was undertaken to inform upscaling
and optimization of the modular unit process wetland design. The pilot-scale wetland system
removed 55% of inorganic N in influent wastewater and was particularly effective in P
attenuation, removing 81% of total P. The environmentally-acceptable pH of wetland system
Environ. Process. (2017) 4:523–547
• Pilot-scale trials were conducted to optimize unit processes in a modular wetland.
• Mineral residues were used as substrate within the modular engineered wetland.
• The pilot-scale modular engineered wetland removed 55% of total N and 81% of total P.
• Use of select mineral-based residues as wetland substrate can enhance P removal.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s40710-017-0247-6)
contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* Laura A. Wendling
CSIRO Land and Water, Centre for Environment and Life Sciences, Private Bag 5, Wembley, WA
Present address: Nansha Key Construction Project Promotion Office, Guangzhou, China
Jiangxi Institute of Water Sciences, No. 1038 Beijingdong Road, Nanchang 330029, People’s
Republic of China
Present address: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, Kemistintie 3, P.O. Box 1000,
FI-02044 VTT Espoo, Finland