Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Serrano J. and Leiva E. (2017)

Removal of Arsenic Using Acid/Metal-Tolerant Sulfate Reducing Bacteria: A New Approach for Bioremediation of High-Arsenic Acid Mine Waters

Revista : Water
Volumen : 9
Número : 12
Páginas : 12pp
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


Fluvial sediments, soils, and natural waters in northern Chile are characterized by high arsenic (As) content. Mining operations in this area are potential sources of As and other metal contaminants, due to acid mine drainage (AMD) generation. Sulfate Reducing Bacteria (SRB) has been used for the treatment of AMD, as they allow for the reduction of sulfate, the generation of alkalinity, and the removal of dissolved heavy metals and metalloids by precipitation as insoluble metal sulfides. Thus, SRB could be used to remove As and other heavy metals from AMD, however the tolerance of SRB to high metal concentrations and low pH is limited. The present study aimed to quantify the impact of SRB in As removal under acidic and As-Fe-rich conditions. Our results show that SRB tolerate low pH (up to 3.5) and high concentrations of As (~3.6 mg·L−1). Batch experiments showed As removal of up to 73%, Iron (Fe) removal higher than 78% and a neutralization of pH from acidic to circum-neutral conditions (pH 6–8). In addition, XRD analysis showed the dominance of amorphous minerals, while Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDX) analysis showed associations between As, Fe, and sulfur, indicating the presence of Fe-S-As compounds or interaction of As species with amorphous and/or nanocrystalline phases by sorption processes. These results indicate that the As removal was mediated by acid/metal-tolerant SRB and open the potential for the application of new strains of acid/metal-tolerant SRB for the remediation of high-As acid mine waters