Continuous removal of sulfate and metals from acidic mining-impacted waters at low temperature using a sulfate-reducing bacterial consortium

Hanna Virpiranta, Ville Hermanni Sotaniemi, Tiina Leiviskä, Sanna Taskila, Jaakko Rämö, D. Barrie Johnson, Juha Tanskanen

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to develop a biological method for the simultaneous removal of sulfate and metals from acidic low-temperature mining effluents. A mixed consortium of cold-tolerant sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and other microorganisms was immobilized on glass beads and exploited in an up-flow biofilm reactor for the continuous treatment of actual and synthetic mining-impacted waters (MIWs) with initial sulfate concentrations between 1580 and 5350 mg L-1. The proton acidity of the mine waters was neutralized by microbial sulfidogenesis. Metals present in the MIWs were precipitated either off-line or in-line, inside the reactor vessel. High sulfate reduction rates (SRRs), from 1000 to 4500 mg L-1 d-1 at a temperature of 11.7 ± 0.2 °C, were achieved (sulfate removal 43–87%). The bacterial consortium was found to be robust and resistant to changes in growth conditions during the bioreactor experiment. The relative abundance of SRB and the SRR increased at higher sulfate concentrations. Sulfidogenic bioreactors have the potential for treatment of acid mine drainage even at low temperature. It was demonstrated that neutral reactor conditions and high SRRs were maintained when acidic influent was fed into the reactor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number132050
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Volume427
Early online date26 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was conducted as part of the Comprehensive Sulphate Management in Cold Mining Wates (COSUMA) research project (Grant number 295050), funded by the Academy of Finland. The study was also part of the Supporting Environmental, Economic and Social Impacts of Mining Activity (KO1030 SEESIMA) research project and received financial support from the Kolarctic CBC (Cross-Border Collaboration), the European Union, Russia, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the authors at the University of Oulu, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the participating countries. The authors wish to thank the Biocenter Oulu Sequencing Center for their 16S rRNA sequencing services.

Funding Information:
The study was conducted as part of the Comprehensive Sulphate Management in Cold Mining Wates (COSUMA) research project (Grant number 295050), funded by the Academy of Finland. The study was also part of the Supporting Environmental, Economic and Social Impacts of Mining Activity (KO1030 SEESIMA) research project and received financial support from the Kolarctic CBC (Cross-Border Collaboration), the European Union, Russia, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the authors at the University of Oulu, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the participating countries. The authors wish to thank the Biocenter Oulu Sequencing Center for their 16S rRNA sequencing services.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • Acid mine drainage
  • Bioreactor
  • Cold-tolerant sulfate-reducing bacteria
  • Metal removal
  • Sulfate removal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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