Arsenic removal by controlled biological iron oxidation reactions

Paula Gonzalez Contreras*, Henk Dijkman, Silvia Vega, Irene Sánchez-Andrea, Jan Weijma, Cees Buisman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperAcademicpeer-review


More than 20 years ago, Paques B.V. introduced innovative biotechnologies to recover metals and to remove sulfate from aqueous streams. These technologies find their origin in the exploration of microorganisms involved in the global sulfur cycle. Currently, several sulfur cycle biotechnologies are applied successfully at full-scale. The sulfur cycle is closely linked with the iron cycle, and also the latter offers opportunities for application of innovative biotechnology for the mining industry. Microorganisms of the natural iron cycle carry out reactions that are not feasible by chemical methods such as ferrous iron oxidation with oxygen at pH below 4. Iron oxidation with oxygen can be conducted using microorganisms living at pH between 0.5 and 7 and at temperatures between 0 and 95ºC. Remarkably these microorganisms can also carry out arsenite oxidation at similar acidic conditions and high temperatures. Making use of the extreme features of these microorganisms, Paques and Wageningen University have developed a biological process to precipitate arsenic as scorodite. This biological formation of scorodite is a novel combination of biological oxidation and biocrystallization. Depending on the level of saturation, biological oxidation rates and operational conditions, we could control the formation of the iron precipitates such as jarosite and scorodite. Currently new microorganisms have been harvested from hot springs and rock acid mine drainage to foster the growth of specialized microbial communities with potential high iron and arsenic oxidation capacities and higher resistance to other metals. In our paper we address the ongoing research and development of the bioscorodite process.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIMPC 2016 - 28th International Mineral Processing Congress
ISBN (Electronic)9781926872292
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event28th International Mineral Processing Congress, IMPC 2016 - Quebec City, Canada
Duration: 11 Sept 201615 Sept 2016


Conference28th International Mineral Processing Congress, IMPC 2016
CityQuebec City


  • Arsenic precipitation
  • Biological oxidation
  • Iron biological conversions
  • Jarosite
  • Scorodite


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