The desulfurization of coal using biological methods is an emerging technology. The biodesulfurization process uses the catalytic activity of chemolithotrophic acidpohiles in removing sulfur and pyrite from the coal. The present study was undertaken to examine the potential of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans in removing the pyritic sulfur and iron from high iron and sulfur containing US coal. The experiment was undertaken in 10 L batch stirred tank reactor having 10% pulp density of coal. The reactor was operated under mesophilic conditions and aerobic conditions were maintained by sparging the air into the reactor. After 35 days of experiment, about 64% of pyrite and 21% of pyritic sulfur was removed from the coal. The findings of the present study indicate that the biodesulfurization process does have potential in treating the high pyrite and sulfur containing coal. A good mass balance was also obtained with net loss of about 5% showing its feasibility for large scale application.
Bioleaching of spent catalyst using moderate thermophilic chemolithotrophic acidophiles in growth medium without Fe source was investigated with two different pulp densities and three different size fractions. All the experiments were conducted on shake flasks at a temperature of 65 °C. The leaching yield of Ni and Al was found to be promising with very high leaching yield of 92-96% followed by Al as 41-76%, which means both Ni and Al leaching were favored by the moderate thermophilic bioleaching compared to the mesophilic bioleaching. The acid consumption was comparatively higher for the 10% pulp density experiments. Comparatively minimal difference in the leaching yield with different size fractions and different pulp densities show no requirement of grinding and using low pulp density less than 10%. This process would rather be economical as well as eco-friendly process for future optimization of the recovery of metal values from spent catalyst.
The present investigation deals with bioleaching of spent petroleum catalyst using At. ferrooxidans and At. thiooxidans. The spent catalyst used in the present study was pretreated with acetone to remove the oily hydrocarbons. FESEM and XPS analysis indicated the presence of metals in sulfide and oxide forms in spent catalyst. Both At. ferrooxidans and At. thiooxidans were found to be highly effective in producing the acid. Bioleaching with At. ferrooxidans and At. thiooxidans led to higher recovery of metals compare to control. During bioleaching similar recoveries of metals were obtained using At. ferrooxidans and At. thiooxidans. This might be due to the presence of metals as soluble oxides and sulphides in the spent catalyst. At the end of bioleaching, about 87-90% Ni, 34% Al, 65-73% Mo and 92-97% V were leached using above bacteria. It is elucidated that bioleaching with At. thiooxidans is comparatively more advantageous due to lower cost of sulphur.
Microbial depyritization of coal using chemoautotrophic bacteria is gaining acceptance as an efficient and eco-friendly technique. The process uses the metabolic activity of chemoautotrophic bacteria in removing sulfur and pyrite from the coal. The aim of the present study was to investigate the potential of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans in removing the pyritic sulfur and iron from high iron and sulfur containing US coal. The experiment was undertaken in 8L bench scale stirred tank reactor having 1% (w/v) pulp density of coal. The reactor was operated at 35ºC and aerobic conditions were maintained by sparging the air into the reactor. It was found that at the end of bio-depyritization process, about 90% of pyrite and 67% of pyritic sulfur was removed from the coal. The results indicate that the bio-depyritization process is an efficient process in treating the high pyrite and sulfur containing coal.