Sulphuric acid is by far the most used industrial chemical by amount and by number of applications. Naturally, almost all these industrial applications generate sulphate-rich wastewater. Such a process water if released into an un-regulated, un-controlled environment can produce highly reactive, corrosive, and toxic hydrogen sulphide gas into the environment.
Hence, many industries and institutions are taking steps towards developing technologies to treat sulphate-rich wastewater so hydrogen-sulphide will not be released into the environment. Instead it is captured and used in variety of industrial applications.
Through BIOMIMIC, we are developing technology to treat sulphate- rich wastewater using a selected group of naturally occurring bacteria, known as sulphate reducing bacteria (SRB). So far, at laboratory scale, we have managed to enrich two consortia of SRB capable of using two different kinds of carbon sources – methanol and acetate.
Moreover, both the consortia have shown significant sulphate reduction rate. Furthermore, another SRB consortium has shown an excellent ability to withstand high salt concentrations similar to a specific process water stream, while reducing sulphate at a significant rate. Finally, two different reactor systems have been evaluated for their efficiency and application to a biological sulphate reduction process at lab-scale. Indeed, the results from the lab-scale experiments have motivated us to begin the process of taking the technology to the pilot scale where actual process water from mines will be used.