The recovery of precious metals is a project with both economic and environmental significance. In this paper, how to use bacterial mineralization to selectively recover gold from multi-ionic aqueous systems is presented. The Bacillus licheniformis
FZUL-63, isolated from a landscape lake in Fuzhou University, was shown to selectively mineralize and precipitate gold from coexisting ions in aqueous solution. The removal of Au(III) almost happened in the first hour. Scanning electron microscope with X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM/EDS-mapping) results and fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) data show that the amino, carboxyl, and phosphate groups on the surface of the bacteria are related to the adsorption of gold ions. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) results implied that Au(III) ions were reduced to those that were monovalent, and the Au(I) was then adsorbed on the bacterial surface at the beginning stage (in the first hour). X-ray diffraction (XRD) results showed that the gold biomineralization began about 10 h after the interaction between Au(III) ions and bacteria. Au(III) mineralization has rarely been influenced by other co-existing metal ions. Transmission electron microscope (TEM) analysis shows that the gold nanoparticles have a polyhedral structure with a particle size of ~20 nm. The Bacillus licheniformis
FZUL-63 could selectively mineralize and recover 478 mg/g (dry biomass) gold from aqua regia-based metal wastewater through four cycles. This could be of great potential in practical applications.
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