The iron-oxidizing bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans SUG 2-2 is markedly resistant to mercuric chloride and can volatilize mercury (Hg0) from mercuric ion (Hg2+) under acidic conditions. To develop a microbial technique to volatilize and recover mercury from acidic and organic compound-containing mercury wastewater, which is usually produced in the course of everyday laboratory work in Okayama University, the effects of organic and inorganic chemicals on the mercury volatilization activity of A. ferrooxidans cells were studied. Among 55 chemicals tested, the mercury volatilization from a reaction mixture (pH 2.5) containing resting cells of SUG 2-2 (1 mg of protein) and mercury chloride (14 nmol) was strongly inhibited by AgNO3 (0.05 mM), K2CrO7 (1.0 mM), cysteine (1.0 mM), trichloroethylene (1 μM), and commercially produced detergents (0.05%). However, the strong inhibition by trichloroethylene and detergents was not observed when these organic compounds were chemically decomposed using Fenton's method before the treatment of the wastewater with SUG 2-2 cells. When 20 ml of water acidified with sulfuric acid (pH 2.5) containing ferrous sulfate (3%), diluted mercury wastewater (17.5 nmol of Hg2+) and SUG 2-2 cells (0.05 mg of protein) were incubated for 10 d at 30°C, 47% of the total mercury in the wastewater was volatilized and recovered into a trapping reagent for metal mercury. However, when the organic compounds in the mercury wastewater were decomposed using Fenton's method and then treated with A. ferrooxidans cells, approximately 100% of the total mercury in the wastewater was volatilized and recovered.
- Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans
- Fenton's method
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology