Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 1179–1187 | Cite as

Bioleaching of heavy metals from sewage sludge, direct action of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans or only the impact of pH?

  • Akbar Ghavidel
  • Sumayyah Naji Rad
  • Hosein Ali Alikhani
  • Meraj Sharari
  • Alireza Ghanbari


The bioleaching process comprises two mechanisms: direct action of the bacteria and indirect effect of low pH. In this work, the effect of bacteria and the effect of low pH on dissolution of the metals were compared. To study these two mechanisms, bioleaching and the chemical treatment were operated simultaneously at the same pH. Results showed that the effect of bacteria played the main role in dissolution of metals, and regarding metal dissolution, there was a significant difference between these two effects. Although the chemical leaching by means of low pH could dissolve metals, the metals are dissolved mainly by the function of the bacteria rather than dissolution because of low pH. Bioleaching could dissolve Cd (71.90%), Mn (92.5%) and Zn (89.14%), whereas the chemical leaching could dissolve Cd (22.03%), Mn (25.06%) and Zn (14.23%). These results indicate that the main cause of metal dissolution during the bioleaching treatment is the unique impact of bacterial activity, which changes the redox state of the metal rendering them to a more soluble form.


Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans Heavy metals Iron-oxidizing bacteria Sewage sludge Sulphur-oxidizing bacteria 


  1. 1.
    Pathak A, Dastidar MG, Sreekrishnan TR (2009) Bioleaching of heavy metals from sewage sludge: a review. J Environ Manag 90:2343–2353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Metcalf A, Eddy B (2003) Wastewater engineering: treatment, disposal and reuse, 4th edn. McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Ltd., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Henry JG, Frasad D (2006) Biosolids from two-stage bioleaching could produce compost for unrestricted use. Environ Technol 27:665–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dabrowska L, Rosinska A (2012) Change of PCBs and forms of heavy metals in sewage sludge during thermophilic anaerobic digestion. Chemosphere 88:168–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Beck AJ, Johnson DL, Jones KC (1996) The form and bioavailability of non-ionic organic chemicals in sewage sludge-amended agricultural soils. Sci Total Environ 185:125–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Song F, Gu L, Zhu N, Yuan H (2013) Leaching behavior of heavy metals from sewage sludge solidified by cement-based binders. Chemosphere 92:344–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Zou D, Chi Y, Dong J, Fu C, Wang F, Ni M (2013) Supercritical water oxidation of tannery sludge: stabilization of chromium and destruction of organics. Chemosphere. Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Jenkins RL, Scheybeler BJ, Smith ML (1981) Metals removal and recovery from municipal sludge. J Water Pollut Control Fed 53:25–32Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Logan TJ, Feltz RE (1985) Effect of aeration, cadmium concentration, and solids content on acid extraction of cadmium from municipal wastewater sludge. J Water Pollut Control Fed 57:406–412Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Marchioretto MM, Bruning H, Loan NTP, Rulkens WH (2002) Heavy metals extraction from anaerobically digested sludge. Water Sci Technol 46:1–8Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Veeken AHM, Hamelers HVM (1999) Removal of heavy metals from sewage sludge by extraction with organic acids. Elsevier Science Ltd., Istanbul, pp 129–136Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Sreekrishnan TR, Tyagi RD (1994) Heavy metal leaching from sewage sludges: a techno-economic evaluation of the process options. Environ Technol 15:531–543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Tyagi RD, Blais JF, Auclair JC (1993) Bacterial leaching of metals from sewage sludge by indigenous iron-oxidizing bacteria. Environ Pollut 82:9–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Shanableh A, Ginige P (2000) Acidic bioleaching of heavy metals from sewage sludge. J Mater Cycles Waste Manag 2:43–50Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Blais JF, Meunier N, Tyagi RD (1997) Simultaneous sewage sludge digestion and metal leaching at controlled pH. Environ Technol 18:499–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Tyagi RD, Couillard D, Tran F (1988) Heavy metals removal from anaerobically digested sludge by chemical and microbiological methods. Environ Pollut 50:295–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Rohwerder T, Gehrke T, Kinzler K, Sand W (2003) Bioleaching review Part A: progress in bioleaching: fundamentals and mechanisms of bacterial metal sulfide oxidation. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 63:239–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hutchins SR, Davidson MS, Brierley JA, Brierley CL (1986) Microorganisms in reclamation of metals. Annu Rev Microbiol 40:311–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Tyagi RD, Couillard D (1991) An innovative biological process for heavy metals removal from municipal sludge. In: Martin A (ed) Biological degradation of wastes. Elsevier Applied Science, Amsterdam, pp 307–322Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fang D, Zhao L, Yang ZQ, Shan HX, Gao Y, Yang Q (2009) Effect of sulphur concentration on bioleaching of heavy metals from contaminated dredged sediments. Environ Technol 30:1241–1248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Herbert RB Jr, Malmström M, Ebenå G, Salmon U, Ferrow E, Fuchs M (2005) Quantification of abiotic reaction rates in mine tailings: evaluation of treatment methods for eliminating iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Environ Sci Technol 39:770–777CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Solisio C, Lodi A, Veglio F (2002) Bioleaching of zinc and aluminium from industrial waste sludges by means of Thiobacillus ferrooxidans. Waste Manag 22:667–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Fuentes A, Lloréns M, Sáez J, Aguilar MI, Ortuño JF, Meseguer VF (2004) Phytotoxicity and heavy metals speciation of stabilised sewage sludges. J Hazard Mater 108:161–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Eaton AD, Clesceri LS, Rice EW, Greenberg AE, Franson MAH (2005) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 21st edn. American Public Health Association (APHA), Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Lindsay WL, Norvell WA (1978) Development of a DTPA soil test for zinc, iron, manganese, and copper. Soil Sci Soc Am J 42:421–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Gu XY, Wong JWC (2004) Characterization of an indigenous iron-oxidizing bacterium and its effectiveness in bioleaching heavy metals from anaerobically digested sewage sludge. Environ Technol 25:889–897CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Chen H, Yang B, Chen X (2009) Identification and characterization of four strains of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans isolated from different sites in China. Microbiol Res 164:613–623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Blais JF, Tyagi RD, Auclair JC (1992) Bioleaching of metals from sewage-sludge by sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. J Environ Eng ASCE 118:690–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Wong JWC, Xiang L, Chan LC (2002) pH requirement for the bioleaching of heavy metals from anaerobically digested wastewater sludge. Water Air Soil Pollut 138:25–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Bosecker K (2001) Microbial leaching in environmental clean-up programmes. Hydrometallurgy 59:245–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Katsuura H, Inoue T, Hiraoka M, Sakai S (1996) Full-scale plant study on fly ash treatment by the acid extraction process. Waste Manag 16:491–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Huang K, Inoue K, Harada H, Kawakita H, Ohto K (2011) Leaching of heavy metals by citric acid from fly ash generated in municipal waste incineration plants. J Mater Cycles Waste Manag 13:118–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Yang C, Zhu N, Shen W, Zhang T, Wu P (2015) Bioleaching of copper from metal concentrates of waste printed circuit boards by a newly isolated Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans strain Z1. J Mater Cycles Waste Manag 19:1–9Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Marchioretto MM (2003) Heavy metals removal from anaerobically digested sludge. Wageningen University, WageningenGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akbar Ghavidel
    • 1
  • Sumayyah Naji Rad
    • 2
  • Hosein Ali Alikhani
    • 3
  • Meraj Sharari
    • 4
  • Alireza Ghanbari
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Soil Science and EngineeringUniversity of Mohaghegh ArdabiliArdabilIran
  2. 2.Young Researchers and Elite Club, Ardabil BranchIslamic Azad UniversityArdabilIran
  3. 3.Department of Soil Science and EngineeringUniversity of TehranKarajIran
  4. 4.Department of Wood Science and IndustriesUniversity of Mohaghegh ArdabiliArdabilIran
  5. 5.Department of HorticultureUniversity of Mohaghegh ArdabiliArdabilIran

Personalised recommendations