Column bioleaching of metals from refinery spent catalyst by Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans: Effect of operational modifications on metal extraction, metal precipitation, and bacterial attachment.


School of Biotechnology, KIIT University, Patia, Bhubaneswar, 751024, India. Electronic address: [Email]


The feasibility of column bioleaching in the recovery of valuable metals (Ni, V, Mo, and Al) from an uncrushed petroleum refinery spent hydroprocessing catalyst using Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans has been reported. Different operational strategies such as submerged bioleaching in continuous mode, submerged bioleaching in resting period mode, free flow bioleaching in continuous mode, and free flow bioleaching in resting period mode were tested to find out the optimum bioleaching strategy for the recovery of metals from spent hydroprocessing catalyst. Among various operational modifications, submerged bioleaching in continuous mode was considered as the best strategy in which about 82.9% of Ni, 33.4% of Al, and 22.7% of Mo were leached after 315 h of column operation. The maximum yield of V (53.6%) in this column was achieved in 105 h, after which, a rapid decrease in its yield was observed, possibly due to its precipitation. The field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) analysis revealed the presence of V in precipitates. The modified kinetic models showed that the leaching of Al, V and Mo followed the chemical control model, whereas the dissolution of Ni was controlled by diffusion control reaction. The bacterial attachment study with FESEM indicated that the metal toxicity was induced on bacterial cells attached to the sulfur particles. The results of the current study indicate that column bioleaching of spent hydroprocessing catalyst is effective in leaching of Ni and V, whereas leaching of Al and Mo require further treatments.


Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans,Bioleaching,Leaching,Metals,Spent catalyst,

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