Towards a sustainable bioprocess for the remediation of acid mine drainage

Mambo, Prudence Mutsa (2011) Towards a sustainable bioprocess for the remediation of acid mine drainage. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Acid mine drainage is of growing concern for both developing and developed economies. Thus there is increasing pressure to develop alternative remediation strategies. Biological sulphidogenic mechanisms have long since been studied but, very few have been implemented on a large scale. Limitations are due to the inability to acquire a suitable, low cost, environmentally friendly, renewable carbon source. The present study investigated the use of an algae biomass generated by the HRAOP of an IAPS as a carbon source for the EBRU 00AB/06 SRB consortium. The algae biomass and consortium were utilized together to remediate simulated AMD. Remediation involved decreasing the sulphate and metal concentrations in solution and decreasing the acidity of a simulated AMD. Experiments were carried out to investigate the capability of the EBRU 00AB/06 SRB consortium for sulphate reduction and sulphide generation. The consortium produced colonies when grown under anaerobic conditions in Petri dishes containing modified lactate SRB medium. The SRB consortium reduced the sulphate concentration of modified Postgates medium B and generated sulphide. Further analysis of the EBRU 00AB/06 SRB consortium revealed that the consortium was minimally impacted at pH 5 and by sulphate and iron at 3 g.L⁻¹ and 0.5 g.L⁻¹ respectively. The EBRU 00AB/06 SRB consortium was exposed to Actinomycin D and Ethidium Bromide to determine whether transcription and translation of proteins was required for sulphate reduction. Results indicated that sulphide generation and sulphate reduction were inducible. Analysis of the algae biomass used in this study revealed the empirical formula C₁.₀H₁.₉₁N₀.₀₈₄S₀.₀₀₃O₀.₃₆ indicating a carbon source rich in the nutrients required to sustain microbial development. Light microscopy revealed that algae cell walls and in particular those of Pediastrum were susceptible to acid hydrolysis. Dinitrosalicylic acid, Nile red, Bradford and Ninhydrin assays were used to determine the reducing sugar, lipid, protein and amino acid content respectively, of the mixed algae biomass. Results showed that upon exposure of the biomass to simulated AMD at pH 1 and pH 3, the concentration of reducing sugars and amino acids in solution increased. Whereas levels of lipids remained unchanged while the protein concentration decreased, indicating that, upon exposure of algae biomass to AMD, simulated or otherwise, cells ruptured, proteins were hydrolyzed and polysaccharides were broken down to sugars which are immediately available for SRB utilization. Exposure of biomass to simulated AMD revealed further that the presence of algae biomass increased the pH of simulated AMD (pH 3) to pH 7.67 after 4 d. Likewise, the pH of simulated AMD at 1 increased to 1.77 after 2 d while pH of the neutral control increased to 8.1 after 4 d. A direct comparison between lactate and algae biomass revealed 94% sulphate removal after 23 d in the presence of algae biomass while 82% sulphate removal was measured in the presence of lactate. Thus the EBRU 00AB/06 SRB consortium successfully utilized algae biomass for sulphate reduction and sulphide generation. In another experiment to establish if the consortium could remediate simulated AMD (pH 5) containing 0.5 g.L⁻¹ iron and 3 g.L⁻¹ sulphate while utilizing an algae biomass as the carbon source no residual iron was detected after 14 d and by day 23, an 89.07% reduction in sulphate was measured. The results of this investigation are discussed in terms of utilizing a readily available and renewable biomass in the form of microalgae produced in HRAOPs as an effective carbon source in the SRB catalysed remediation of AMD.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Acid mine drainage, Algae culture, Reduction, Chemistry, Hydrolysis, Water purification, Biotechnology
Subjects:T Technology > TP Chemical technology > Biotechnology
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Environmental Biotechnology Research Unit (EBRU)
ID Code:3095
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:09 Jul 2012 12:17
Last Modified:09 Jul 2012 12:17
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