Effect of solids concentration on bacterial leaching of heavy metals from sewage sludge

Kyung Suk Cho, Hee Wook Ryu, In Sook Lee, Hyung Min Choi

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21 Scopus citations


Microbial metal leaching from sewage sludge (2-9% w/v) was carried out with the iron-oxidizing bacterium Thiobacillus ferrooxidans. Measurements of pH, oxidation-reduction potential, and concentration of Fe2+ indicated that T. ferrooxidans was effective in removing metals from an incubation bath containing less than 5% sludge solids concentration. Specifically, Cu leaching was completely suppressed at a high solids concentration of 9% (w/v). Results indicated that the deactivation of T. ferrooxidans at a high sludge content was mainly due to the presence of inhibiting materials such as organic matter. A mixed culture of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria was obtained by enrichment from anaerobically digested sewage sludge to enhance the efficiency of the microbial leaching process. These bacteria were much more effective in metal leaching than was iron-oxidizing T. ferrooxidans. At 9% (w/v) solids concentration, the leaching efficiencies of Zn and Cu were 78% (2.66 g/kg dry sludge) and 59% (1.36 g/kg dry sludge), respectively. Therefore, when removing heavy metals from the anaerobically digested sewage sludge, the indigenous sulfur-oxidizing bacteria isolated in the current study were more efficient than T. ferrooxidans, especially at high sludge solids concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-243
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2002


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