Surface alteration of realgar (As4S4) by Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans


  • Peng Chen
  • Lei Yan
  • Qiang Wang
  • Yang Li
  • Hongyu Li


The chemical and physical characteristics of realgar (an arsenic sulfide mineral that occurs in several crystalline forms) in the presence of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans BY-3 were investigated in this work. Grains of the mineral were incubated for 10, 20, and 30 days with A. ferrooxidans cultured in 9K medium at 30 °C and at 150 rpm agitation. Abiotic control experiments were conducted in identical solutions. The effect of bioleaching on the surface properties of realgar was characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscope (ICP-AES), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and Raman spectroscopy. SEM and EDS analyses confirmed the ability of A. ferrooxidans to modify surfaces of realgar and to efficiently enhance its dissolution. ICP-AES showed the dissolution and precipitation of realgar during bioleaching. Based on the XRD pattern and the Raman spectra, the decrease in arsenic in the liquid phase was due to co-precipitation of the mineral with Fe(III) or Fe(III) compounds (e.g., jarosite or goethite). Thus, not only did Fe(III) alter the surface of realgar, but it also promoted its dissolution during bioleaching.






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