Application of leaching tests on phosphogypsum by infiltration-percolation
The phosphoric acid production obtained by attacking phosphate rock by sulphuric acid cogenerates considerable quantities of phosphogypsum. The world cogeneration is estimated about 100–280 Mt per year. In another context of sustainable development, the phosphate chemical industry develops different ways of phosphogypsum valorization, which makes its storage stack in a suitable way for its potential use as an industrial by-product. Although, this storage can cause an environmental impact largely due to the transfer of trace elements (TEs) to groundwater by leaching. It is therefore important to evaluate the impact linked to the storage in order to limit this transfer. The evaluation is usually performed through leaching tests in columns or reactor. In this work, leaching tests were performed in columns by infiltration-percolation on two filter mediums: phosphogypsum and synthetic sandy soils. The results showed that the phosphogypsum is acting as a filter, which retains and releases the TEs. Most of these TEs (Pb, Se, Ag, Zn and Cu) were highly retained in the synthetic soils surfaces and their contents in waters were considerably lower than the maximum contaminant levels (MCLs). Although As, Cd, Cr and Ni were strongly transferred to groundwater, their respective contents were higher than the MCLs.