Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Process Engineering, Biotechnology, Nutrition Technology
Abstract Autotrophic as well as heterotrophic bacteria and fungi play an important role for the industrial recovery of metals from low-grade ore or, in general, from low-grade mineral resources. The same inorganic bacterial pathways that are responsible for huge and expensive corrosion problems can be used for economical biohydrometallurgical applications. Metals and metalloids can be microbially transformed by oxidation, reduction, alkylation, dealkylation, solubilization, and␣precipitation mechanisms. Biohydrometallurgy, a branch of classical metallurgy, is not as widely publicized as other areas of metallurgy, e.g. pyrometallurgical or hydrometallurgical processes. Since 1990, approximately 15 international patent applications concerning biohydrometallurgical techniques have been claimed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty in contrast to a large number of patents concerning pyro- and hydrometallurgical techniques. Nevertheless, it is a very important field of investigation, especially for the future when aspects of a sustainable development have to be considered. New processes to support this development are applicable, at least on a laboratory scale. Bacterial leaching processes for the recovery of metals from solid residues are applied for low-grade ore, and, more recently, for fly ash, galvanic sludges, or, in general, for industrial wastes. It is possible to recover leached metals and to recycle them in metal-manufacturing industries. In addition, by removing the metals from residues, the environmental quality is improved, and the material can be re-used for construction purposes.
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