Pyrite oxidation by Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans at various concentrations of dissolved oxygen.
Gleisner, M., Herbert, R. and Frogner Kockum, P.C.
Pyrite oxidation rates were examined at various concentrations of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the presence of the sulfur and iron oxidizer Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans. Five different batch experiments were performed at room temperature for 75 days under various DO levels (273, 129, 64.8, 13.2, and ≤ 0.006 μM), containing pyrite grains (particle size 63–250 μm) and a modified 9K nutrient medium at pH 3. The reactors were inoculated with A. ferrooxidans. In all experiments, pH decreased with time and sulfur and iron were released to the solution, indicating pyrite oxidation at all DO levels. Pyrite oxidation rates (ca. 5 × 10− ¹º mol m−² s−¹ at 273 μM DO) from all experiments showed positive correlation with DO, Fe(III), and bacterial concentration. These rates were significantly slower than rates presented in other published studies, but this is probably due to the significantly greater Fe(III) concentration at lower pH in these previous studies. The results obtained in this study suggest that ferric iron reduction at the pyrite surface is the primarily mechanism for microbial pyrite oxidation in the presence of DO. The results from our study support the indirect mechanism of sulfide oxidation, where A. ferrooxidans oxidizes ferrous iron in the presence of DO, which then oxidizes pyrite.