Oligochaete worms can substantially speed up the reuse of both dredged sediment and contaminated mine tailings, Deltares said in their latest release.
Researchers from Deltares, with the support from the University of Alberta, Queen Mary University of London and NAIT (polytechnic and applied research institute) have determined this in laboratory tests.
According to their statement, in the Netherlands, this nature-based technology is promising for the circular reuse of dredged material, while in Canada the mining industry is interested particularly for mine sites closure.
The fact that the small worms accelerate the dewatering of sediment with their bustle and appetite was already known and tested in for example water treatment plants.
But now the Dutch, Canadians and British have designed the conditions under which these worms will continue to live in (oil sands) mine tailings.
“At this moment we still talk about laboratory tests, but the first results have positioned this technology as a promising alternative to traditional sediment management, both technically and financially,” said Deltares.
This technology reduces the storage volume, speeds up dewatering, enhances strength development, and reduces the use of chemical water treatment.