Process for biological oxidation and control of dissolved iron in bioleach liquors

Nurmi P., ÖZKAYA B., Kaksonen A., Tuovinen O., Riekkola-Vanhanen M., Puhakka J.

PROCESS BIOCHEMISTRY, vol.44, no.12, pp.1315-1322, 2009 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 44 Issue: 12
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.procbio.2009.07.004
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1315-1322
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Iron has a central role in bioleaching and biooxidation processes. Fe(2+) produced in the dissolution of sulfidic minerals is re-oxidized to Fe(3+) mostly by biological action in acid bioleaching processes. To control the concentration of iron in solution, it is important to precipitate the excess as part of the process circuit. in this study, a bioprocess was developed based on a fluidized-bed reactor (FBR) for Fe(2+)-oxidation coupled with a gravity settler for precipitative removal of ferric iron. Biological iron oxidation and partial removal of iron by precipitation from a barren heap leaching solution was optimized in relation to the performance and retention time (tau(FBR)) of the FBR. The biofilm in the FBR was dominated by Leptospirillum ferriphilum and "Ferromicrobium acidiphilum." The FBR was operated at pH 2.0 +/- 0.2 and at 37 degrees C. The feed was a barren leach solution following metal recovery. with all iron in the ferrous form. 98-99% of the Fe(2+) in the barren heap leaching solution was oxidized in the FBR at loading rates below 10 g Fe(2+)/Lh (tau(FBR) of 1 h). The optimal performance with the oxidation rate of 8.2 g Fe(2+)/L h was achieved tau(FBR) of 1 h. Below the tau(FBR) of 1 h the oxygen mass transfer from air to liquid limited the iron oxidation rate. The precipitation of ferric iron ranged from 5% to 40%. The concurrent Fe(2+) oxidation and partial precipitative iron removal was maximized at tau(FBR) of 1.5 h, with Fe(2+) oxidation rate of 5.1 g Fe(2+)/L h and Fe3+ precipitation rate of 25 mg Fe(3+)/L h, which corresponded to 37% iron removal. The precipitates had good settling properties as indicated by the sludge volume indices of 3-15 mL/g but this step needs additional characterization of the properties of the solids and optimization to maximize the precipitation and to manage sludge disposal, (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.