Novel Approaches for Bioremediation of Acidic, Metal-Rich Effluents Using Indigenous Bacteria

Johnson, Barrie ; Dziurla, Marie-Antoinette ; Kolmert, Åsa
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Acidophilic bacteria are well known for their role in accelerating the oxidative dissolution of sulfide minds, such as pyrite. Other acidophiles, however, are able to catalyze dissimilatory reductive reactions. Bacteria that reduce ferric iron to ferrous, and sulfate to sulfide, were isolated from ARD-impacted environments and immobilised onto porous beads made of recycled glass. Column bioreactors containing colonized beads were constructed and peacolated with synthetic and actual ARD, and evaluated for their capacities to promote iron or sulfate reduction, and pH amelioration. Iron reduction did not require strictly anoxic conditions in bioreactors, and rates of up to 800 mg Fe3+ reduced/(l*day) were achieved, with a conversion efficiency of up to 98%. Using mixed populations of acidophilic fungi and iron-reducing bacteria, the bioreactors were capable of promoting iron reduction using paper pulp as sole carbon and energy source. Reduction of sulfate in pack bed bioreactors was observed with acidic wastewaters of pH 3 and above, though average rates of 300 mg sulfate reduced/(l*/day) were less than those recorded for circum-neutral pH systems. Bioremediation of ferric iron-rich ARD was assessed using coupled iron-reducing and sulfate reducing bioreactors.
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