Enrichment and characterisation of thermophilic acidophiles for the bioleaching of mineral sulphides
ABSTRACT Thermophilic acidophilic Archaea were enriched from samples collected from geothermally active sites in Papua New Guinea. Pure cultures (JP2 and JP3) were obtained from mixed culture enrichments and were characterised and tested for their bioleaching ability. All cultures possessed Sulfolobus-like morphology, and the presence of distinctive cyclized tetraether lipids. The two pure cultures were identified by their 16S rRNA gene sequences as being most closely related to Sulfolobus solfataricus. Each isolate was able to oxidise both Fe2+ and sulphur, and grow on both pyrite and chalcopyrite under autotrophic conditions. Leaching experiments showed that the isolates were capable of rapidly leaching a chalcopyrite concentrate (up to 91% Cu release in 108 h). Optimal temperatures for growth and chalcopyrite leaching were determined for each strain. Chalcopyrite dissolution rates for JP2 at different temperatures were determined using a previously described kinetic model. An Arrhenius plot to investigate the relationship between dissolution rate and temperature, showed that for JP2, an increase in temperature from 70 to 83 °C resulted in a 6.6-fold rate increase. Studies with both mixed and pure cultures showed that these cultures were capable of rapidly leaching a chalcopyrite concentrate at very high temperatures (up to 90 °C), but also were capable of bioleaching at 50 °C. These thermophilic acidophiles possess the ability to bioleach over a wide range of temperatures. They are potentially well suited to industrial leaching applications where considerable temperature fluctuations limit the growth of other non-thermophilic bioleaching microorganisms.
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ABSTRACT: In the tank bioleaching process, maximising solid loading and mineral availability, the latter through decreasing particle size, are key to maximising metal extraction. In this study, the effect of particle size distribution on bioleaching performance and microbial growth was studied through applying knowledge based on medical geology research to understand the adverse effects of suspended fine pyrite particles. Small-scale leaching studies, using pyrite concentrate fractions (106-75, 75-25, -25 μm fines), were used to confirm decreasing performance with decreasing particle size (D (50) <40 μm). Under equivalent experimental conditions, the generation of the reactive oxygen species (ROS), hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals from pyrite was illustrated. ROS generation measured from the different pyrite fractions was found to increase with increasing pyrite surface area loading (1.79-74.01 m(2) L(-1)) and Fe(2+) concentration (0.1-2.8 g L(-1)) in solution. The highest concentration of ROS was measured from the finest fraction of pyrite (0.85 mM) and from the largest concentration of Fe(2+) (0.78 mM). No ROS was detected from solutions containing only Fe(3+) under the same conditions tested. The potential of ROS to inhibit microbial performance under bioleaching conditions was demonstrated. Pyrite-free Sulfolobus metallicus cultures challenged with hydrogen peroxide (0.5-2.5 mM) showed significant decrease in both cell growth and Fe(2+) oxidation rates within the concentration range 1.5-2.5 mM. In combination, the results from this study suggest that conditions of large pyrite surface area loading, coupled with high concentrations of dissolved Fe(2+), can lead to the generation of ROS, resulting in oxidative stress of the microorganisms.Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 05/2012; 97:2735–2742. · 3.69 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The generation of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), H2O2 and OH, has been observed from sulfide mineral containing particles in acidic solutions. The implications of this phenomenon, as a potential microbial stress-causing effect, have been studied previously with respect to thermophilic bioleaching performance in the presence of finely milled pyrite and chalcopyrite concentrates. In this study, the effect of sulfide mineralogy on ROS generation in the absence of microbes under physicochemical conditions typical for the bioleach environment was investigated. The mineralogical and elemental composition of eleven different samples containing sulfide mineral was obtained. These Au, Cu and other base metal-containing sulfide mineral concentrates as well as a milled whole ore of low Cu grade were tested for ROS generation. The whole ore sample and two refractory Au concentrates containing approximately 50% pyrite, generated significantly less ROS compared to the base metal-containing concentrates when compared on a constant surface area loading basis. Sulfide mineral-related variables were correlated with ROS generation. A significant difference was observed between FeS2 and CuFeS2 grades separately, whereas a combined measure of both minerals present in samples showed a consistently strong correlation to ROS generation. The Cu grade, total Cu-containing sulfides and the chalcopyrite content of Cu-containing samples correlated well with ROS generation. However, a common deterministic variable with a strong association to increased ROS generation was not found. A sub-set of samples were subjected to QEMSCAN® for textural analysis. Results suggested that a decrease in sulfide mineral liberation, caused by gangue silicate mineral occlusion to solution, resulted in decreased reactivity as shown in one of the Au-containing samples. Well-liberated chalcopyrite and pyrite phases corresponded to increased reactivity of samples. Pyrite, which was present in all of the reactive samples, was shown to be associated with other sulfide minerals, implicating its importance in galvanic interactions. Micro-analysis of chalcopyrite and pyrite phases from highly reactive samples showed an abundance of particles with extensive cracking and the possible presence of secondary transformation phases (szomolnokite). These results suggest that sulfide mineralogy, liberation and extent of physical processing affect sulfide mineral concentrate reactivity in acidic solutions.Applied Geochemistry 12/2012; · 1.71 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Removal of textile dyestuffs from aqueous solution by biosorption onto a dead fungal biomass isolated from acidic mine drainage in the Çanakkale Region of Turkey was investigated. The fungus was found to be a promising biosorbent and identified as Paecilomyces sp. The optimal conditions for bioremediation were as follows: pH, 2.0; initial dyestuff concentration, 50 mg l(-1) for Reactive Yellow 85 and Reactive Orange 12, and 75 mg l(-1) for Reactive Black 8; biomass dosage, 2 g l(-1) for Reactive Yellow 85, 3 g l(-1) for Reactive Orange 12, 4 g l(-1) for Reactive Black 8; temperature, 25 °C; and agitation rate, 100 rpm. Zeta potential measurements indicated an electrostatic interaction between the binding sites and dye anions. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy showed that amine, hydroxyl, carbonyl, and amide bonds were involved in the dyestuff biosorption. A toxicity investigation was also carried out before and after the biosorption process. These results showed that the toxicities for the reactive dyestuffs in aqueous solutions after biosorption studies decreased. The Freundlich and Langmuir adsorption models were used for the mathematical description of the biosorption equilibrium, and isotherm constants were evaluated for each dyestuff. Equilibrium data of biosorption of RY85 and RO12 dyestuffs fitted well to both models at the studied concentration and temperature.Environmental Science and Pollution Research 12/2012; · 2.62 Impact Factor