Developement of a BIObased Infiltration Hampering Stratum as a cover and renaturation of potash tailings piles (BioIHS)

At the production sites of the potash industry, vast amounts of waste salt are produced that consist mostly of NaCl. This waste salt is deposited on site in open potash tailings piles, which can reach an area and height of >100 ha and >150 m, respectively. Salt is washed out due to precipitation and partly leaches into the environment, i.e. into the groundwater, or is discarded into surface waters (salt burden control). This salt output has to be reduced in the context of approval procedures of tailings pile expansions that are nessessary to maintain efficient production. Therefore, this project aims to develop and validate a novel bio-based surface cover for potash tailings piles. This layer is based on the principle of the infiltration hampering stratum (IHS) and is enhanced by the formation of biocrusts, by inoculation of a microalgal formula. At the end of the project, the novel process technology is expected to be used by the industry in the context of engineering services for planning, implementation and monitoring of projects dealing with respective surface covers of potash tailings piles.

Responsible scientists

Prof. Dr. Ulf Karsten

Dr. Azam Omidi

Dr. Veronika Sommer (UPI)

ZIM cooperation project (AiF Projekt GmbH), suported by BMWi

Funding no.

Funding Period
1.11.21 - 31.10.24

Cooperation partner
upi UmweltProjekt Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH