Biometallurgy of critical raw materials: microbial affinity and sequestration from liquid streams

01 October 2020 → 30 September 2023
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Separation technologies
    • (Waste)water treatment processes
    • Recycling
    • Environmental microorganism biotechnology
    • Resources engineering
Biometallurgy Analytical biochemistry Microbial metal affinity
Project description

Fundamental insights in biological precipitation, accumulation and sorptive mechanisms by bacterial species is essential in designing a bioprocess for selective metal recovery and water reclamation. Biological immobilization of heavy metals from waste water has already been demonstrated. However, rising use of “green” technologies for transport, energy and communication, etc., creates a need for expanding that knowledge towards also critical raw materials like indium, cobalt, nickel, niobium and lithium. This research project focusses on understanding fundamental microbial interactions towards metal ions in solution. Phenotypic selection and genomic identification of domains responsible for enhanced metal uptake will thereby offer valuable information. An important part of the project is dedicated to mapping of (nanoparticulate) metal uptake by individual cells by developing custom analytical methods. Finally, an optimized modular bio-reactor intends to treat streams of waste water and advanced treatment processes and metal bioleachates from secondary residues. This technology hence strongly contributes to sustainable water management, prevent contamination of natural water bodies and assist in securing the supply of certain elements through recycling.