A technology dating to the 16th century and built with PVC piping available at any Home Depot or Lowe’s soon will be used to enhance and possibly revolutionize the treatment of abandoned mine drainage, still Pennsylvania’s biggest water quality problem.
The technology, called “trompe,” an old French word meaning trumpet, is a water-powered air compressor with no moving parts. It has been adapted and developed by Bruce Leavitt, a mining hydrologist and professor of mining engineering at West Virginia University, to provide enhanced aeration of polluted mine water, which speeds the cleanup process.
Use of trompe technology is especially applicable to the hundreds of mine discharges flowing out of the Pittsburgh coal seam in Western Pennsylvania, said Mr. Leavitt, during a walking tour of a trompe-enhanced passive treatment system on the North Fork of Montour Run in Findlay, 2 miles south of the Pittsburgh International Airport.
“Trompe can reduce the size and cost of passive treatment systems for mine drainage,” he said, “And it can take a treatment system that’s not working, or not working well, and clean the water better.”