Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 97, Issue 11, pp 5113–5123 | Cite as

Biosorption of heavy metals in a photo-rotating biological contactor—a batch process study

  • Sanaz Orandi
  • David M. Lewis
Environmental Biotechnology


Metal removal potential of indigenous mining microorganisms from acid mine drainage (AMD) has been well recognised in situ at mine sites. However, their removal capacity requires to be investigated for AMD treatment. In the reported study, the capacity of an indigenous AMD microbial consortium dominated with Klebsormidium sp., immobilised in a photo-rotating biological contactor (PRBC), was investigated for removing various elements from a multi-ion synthetic AMD. The synthetic AMD was composed of major (Cu, Mn, Mg, Zn, Ca, Na, Ni) and trace elements (Fe, Al, Cr, Co, Se, Ag, Mo) at initial concentrations of 2 to 100 mg/L and 0.005 to 1 mg/L, respectively. The PRBC was operated for two 7-day batch periods under pH conditions of 3 and 5. The maximum removal was observed after 3 and 6 days at pH 3 and 5, respectively. Daily water analysis data demonstrated the ability of the algal–microbial biofilm to remove an overall average of 25–40 % of the major elements at pH 3 in the order of Na > Cu > Ca > Mg > Mn > Ni > Zn, whereas a higher removal (35–50 %) was observed at pH 5 in the order of Cu > Mn > Mg > Ca > Ni > Zn > Na. The removal efficiency of the system for trace elements varied extensively between 3 and 80 % at the both pH conditions. The batch data results demonstrated the ability for indigenous AMD algal–microbial biofilm for removing a variety of elements from AMD in a PRBC. The work presents the potential for further development and scale-up to use PBRC inoculated with AMD microorganisms at mine sites for first or secondary AMD treatment.


Acid mine drainage Indigenous AMD microorganisms Micro-algae Photo-rotating biological contactor Biosorption 



This work was financially supported by the R&D centre at the Sarcheshmeh copper mine in Iran and GHD Pty Ltd in Adelaide, South Australia. Special thanks go to Saeid Ghasemi and Afsar Eslami for their cooperation in undertaking work at the mine site and to Mohammad Reza Nikouei for his great assistance in the field, and to John Ewers and Joanne Princi for their cooperation at GHD. The authors would also like to thank Jason Peak, Jeffrey Hiorns and Michael Jung for constructing the PRBC in the School of Chemical Engineering workshop at the University of Adelaide. Additionally, the authors would like to thank Amir Ahmad Forghani from the School of Chemical Engineering, University of Adelaide for his analytical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Micro-algae Engineering Research Group, School of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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