Dr. Katrin Pollmann
Group Leader Biotechnology
Processing Division

Phone: +49 351 260 - 2946
Fax: +49 351 260 - 3553, -12946


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. HIF researchers are, therefore, developing sustainable leaching processes that can meet these challenges and open up new application fields.

The group 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

Selected Publications

  • 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
    DOI-Link: 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.02.005
  • 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)
    DOI-Link: 10.1016/j.mineng.2014.09.015
  • 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
    DOI-Link: 10.1016/j.mineng.2014.12.035