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Biological sulfate reduction of a sulfate-rich industrial waste liquor using sulfate reducing bacteria

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2013, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 205-211

Natarajan, K.A.; Usha Padukone, S.


 An industrial waste liquor having high sulfate concentrations was subjected to biological treatment using the sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) Desulfovibrio desulfuricans. Toxicity levels of different sulfate, cobalt and nickel concentrations toward growth of the SRB with respect to biological sulfate reduction kinetics was initially established. Optimum sulfate concentration to promote SRB growth amounted to 0.8 - 1 g/L. The strain of D. desulfuricans used in this study initially tolerated up to 4 -5 g/L of sulfate or 50 mg/L of cobalt and nickel, while its tolerance could be further enhanced through adaptation by serial subculturing in the presence of increasing concentrations of sulfate, cobalt and nickel. From the waste liquor, more than 70% of sulfate and 95% of cobalt and nickel could be precipitated as sulfides, using a preadapted strain of D. desulfuricans. Probable mechanisms involving biological sulfide precipitation and metal adsorption onto precipitates and bacterial cells are discussed.