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Leaching of Zinc Sulfide by Thiobacillus ferrooxidans: Bacterial Oxidation of the Sulfur Product Layer Increases the Rate of Zinc Sulfide Dissolution at High Concentrations of Ferrous Ions

By T. A. Fowler and F. K. Crundwell


This paper reports the results of leaching experiments conducted with and without Thiobacillus ferrooxidans at the same conditions in solution. The extent of leaching of ZnS with bacteria is significantly higher than that without bacteria at high concentrations of ferrous ions. A porous layer of elemental sulfur is present on the surfaces of the chemically leached particles, while no sulfur is present on the surfaces of the bacterially leached particles. The analysis of the data using the shrinking-core model shows that the chemical leaching of ZnS is limited by the diffusion of ferrous ions through the sulfur product layer at high concentrations of ferrous ions. The analysis of the data shows that diffusion through the product layer does not limit the rate of dissolution when bacteria are present. This suggests that the action of T. ferrooxidans in oxidizing the sulfur formed on the particle surface is to remove the barrier to diffusion by ferrous ions

Topics: Physiology and Biotechnology
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Year: 1999
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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