Extraction and recovery of precious metals from electronic waste printed circuit boards by bioleaching acidophilic fungi

  • M. Narayanasamy
  • D. DhanasekaranEmail author
  • G. Vinothini
  • N. Thajuddin
Original Paper


Printed circuit boards contain precious metals. They are produced in large volumes, rendering them an important component of the electronic waste. In view of the heterogeneity of the metals present, reprocessing of electronic waste is a heinous task. The present study focused on leaching of valuable metals from electronic waste printed circuit boards using Aspergillus niger DDNS1. The adaptation phases began at 0.1, 0.5 and 1.0% of fine powder of printed circuit boards with 10% inoculum and were optimized with three effective factors, viz. initial pH, particle size and pulp density, to achieve the maximum simultaneous recovery of the valuable metals. The interactions of these metals were also deciphered using scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectrum and atomic absorption spectroscopy. The results indicated that extraction of the precious metals was accomplished mainly through the unique organic acids originating from A. niger DDNS1. The initial pH played an important role in the extraction of the precious metals and the metals precipitate formation. The leaching rate of the metals was generally higher at low powder dosage of printed circuit boards. The toxicity of the printed circuit boards had little effect on two-step bioleaching at the pulp density of 0.1% compared to one-step bioleaching. The two-step bioleaching process was followed under organic acid-forming conditions for the maximum mobilization of metals. Thus, the precious metals from printed circuit boards could be mobilized through fungal bioleaching which promises an important industrial application in recycling of electronic wastes.


Aspergillus niger One-step and two-step bioleaching Organic acids Toxic metals Valuable metals 



The authors thank the Research Foundation of Bharathidasan University for the fellowship (URF) (02492/URF/K7/2016 Date: 09.03.2016) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), New Delhi, for the award of INSPIRE fellowship [IF 140963/DST/INSPIRE Fellowship/2014/Dt. 30.12.2014].

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 726 kb)


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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bioprocess Technology Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, School of Life SciencesBharathidasan UniversityTiruchirappalliIndia

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