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Selective biodissolution of calcium and iron from bauxite in the presence ofBacillus polymyxa

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DOI: 10.1016/s1572-4409(99)80047-9


A bacterium Bacillus polymyxa was found to be capable of selective removal of calcium and iron from bauxite. The bioleached residue was found to be enriched in its alumina content with insignificant amounts of iron and calcium as impurities. The developed bio- process was found to be capable of producing a bauxite product which meets the specifica- tions as a raw material for the manufacture of alumina based ceramics and refractories. The role of bacterial cells and metabolic products in the selective dissolution of calcium (present as calcite) and iron (present as hematite and goethite) from bauxite was assessed and possi- ble mechanisms illustrated. The effect of different parameters such as sucrose concentra- tion, pH, pulp density and time on selective biodissolution was studied. It was observed that periodic decantation and replenishment of the leach medium was beneficial in improving the dissolution kinetics. Calcium removal involves chelation with bacterial exopolysaccha- tides and acidolysis by organic acid generation. Hematite could be solubilized through a reductive dissolution mechanism.

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