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Chemistry Open Book Paper - Biohydro-metallurgy.

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Introduction

Biohydro-metallurgy is an application used in mining to extract certain metals from their ores using specialised bacteria such as Thiobacillus ferro-oxidans which metabolise certain substances in the ore to gain the energy they need to live, Chemistry Open Book Paper 1) Biohydro-metallurgy is an application used in mining to extract certain metals from their ores using specialised bacteria such as Thiobacillus ferro-oxidans which metabolise certain substances in the ore to gain the energy they need to live, which breaks it down and releases the metal ions into solution from which they can be extracted. The bacteria require very little else to perform this task, as they require no organic nourishment, apart from a slightly acidic environment, access to carbon dioxide and oxygen from the air and an ambient temperature of around 30?c for optimum performance. Thiobacillus ferro-oxidans oxidise both Fe? and S? ions allowing the insoluble minerals of copper, zinc and lead to be broken down as they also contain S? ...read more.

Middle

This recharges the leaching solution, which can then be used again. This is a representation of the ligand reaction; Cu (aq) + 2LH (organic) CuL (organic) + 2H (aq) Another example of biohydro-metallurgy is the extraction of gold; using a thermophillic bacterium called Sulpholobus acidocalderius in reactions at 70?c has increased the recovery of gold from its ore from 10% to 100%. The only problem with this form of bio hydrometallurgy is that the optimum temperature for the bacterium would have to be manufactured, so a robust and adaptable culture was developed that was effective over a wide range of temperatures (30?c - 55?c) so that gold recover could be maximised Here is a flow diagram of the process There are many positive reasons for using biohydro-metallurgy as both a primary and secondary method of extraction as it is cheap, environmentally friendly and renewable. These advantages have become more and more influential as regulatory agencies have placed restrictions on harmful sulphur dioxide emissions from the plants, increasing the cost of metal production. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are several stages of development that a new mining process such as this would have to pass through before it could operate commercially. Firstly the process would have to be initially researched, usually by a university as part of a course. Then after it had proved itself viable through testing, financial backing from a major, possibly national mining company would be needed to futher the research. Once this had been found the new process would be rigorously tested, increasing the amount or ore used until a transportable pilot plant could be used, allowing tests to be carried out under different conditions, testing the limits of the process. Finally, providing that the process has shown to work well under all expectable conditions and is financially viable then a full-scale plant may be built. 2) Biohydro-metallurgy is a method of extracting metals from their ores without using the conventional techniques. It involves using a bacterium that metabolises certain ions within the ore, breaking it down and releasing the solution metal from within. It can be used as a primary method of extraction for gold and a secondary method for copper. ...read more.

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