|With their metabolic processes and products, microorganisms are able to extract metals from ore bodies.|
|Photo: HZDR/Sander Münster|
With their metabolic processes and products, microorganisms are able to extract metals. Bioleaching exploits this ability. Its application is particularly suitable for processing ores with low metal contents, which are usually difficult or even impossible to process when using conventional physicochemical methods.
Sulfidic minerals, for instance, can be leached by technologies which are already established using iron or sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (e.g., Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans). They are commonly used to industrially produce copper and other accompanying elements. However, they do not apply to non-sulfidic sources or complex raw materials. The Biotechnology Department is, therefore, developing sustainable leaching processes that can meet these challenges and open up new application fields.
The team investigates the following topics:
- Development of biological leaching processes for recovering metals from sulfide and non-sulfide minerals at high pH values (e.g., carbonate rich ores)
- Development of biological leaching processes for recovering metals from tailings ("remining"), complex ores and electronic scrap
- Elaboration of basic principles for the application of sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms, which have not yet been investigated; fundamental research on biological processes
- Process development for manufacturing leachable metabolic products
- Opara, C. B.; Blannin, R.; Ebert, D.; Frenzel, M.; Pollmann, K.; Kutschke, S. "Bioleaching of metal(loid)s from sulfidic mine tailings and waste rock from the Neves Corvo mine, Portugal, by an acidophilic consortium", Minerals Engineering 188(2022), 107831
- Hopfe, S.; Flemming, K.; Lehmann, F.; Möckel, R.; Kutschke, S.; Pollmann, K.
"Leaching of Rare Earth Elements from fluorescent powder using the tea fungus Kombucha", Waste Management 62(2017), 211-221
- Kutschke, S.; Guezennec, A.G.; Hedrich, S.; Schippers, A.; Borg, G.; Kamradt, A.; Gouin, J.; Giebner, F.; Schopf, S.; Schlömann, M.; Rahfeld, A.; Gutzmer, J.; D'Hugues, P.; Pollmann, K.; Dirlich, S.; Bodenan, F.
"Bioleaching of Kupferschiefer blackshale - A review including perspectives of the Ecometals project", Minerals Engineering, Special Issue: BioHydromet '14, vol. 75 (May 2015)
- Kostudis, S.; Bachmann, K.; Kutschke, S.; Pollmann, K.; Gutzmer, J.
"Leaching of copper from Kupferschiefer by glutamic acid and heterotrophic bacteria", Minerals Engineering 75(2015), 38-44