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Fungal Leaching of Hazardous Heavy Metals from a Spent Hydrotreating Catalyst

Authors: R. Mafi Gholami, S. M. Borghei, S. M. Mousavi


In this study, the ability of Aspergillus niger and Penicillium simplicissimum to extract heavy metals from a spent refinery catalyst was investigated. For the first step, a spent processing catalyst from one of the oil refineries in Iran was physically and chemically characterized. Aspergillus niger and Penicillium simplicissimum were used to mobilize Al/Co/Mo/Ni from hazardous spent catalysts. The fungi were adapted to the mixture of metals at 100-800 mg L-1 with increments in concentration of 100 mg L-1. Bioleaching experiments were carried out in batch cultures. To investigate the production of organic acids in sucrose medium, analyses of the culture medium by HPLC were performed at specific time intervals after inoculation. The results obtained from Inductive coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) showed that after the one-step bioleaching process using Aspergillus niger, maximum removal efficiencies of 27%, 66%, 62% and 38% were achieved for Al, Co, Mo and Ni, respectively. However, the highest removal efficiencies using Penicillium simplicissimum were of 32%, 67%, 65% and 38% for Al, Co, Mo and Ni, respectively

Keywords: Aspergillus niger, Bioleaching, Heavy metals, Penicillium simplicissimum, Spent catalyst

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