Heavy metal pollution is one of the most important environmental problems today even threatening human life. A large number of industries produce and discharge wastes containing different heavy metals into the environment and do not comply with current EU directives. BIOMETAL DEMO project aims at demonstrating the feasibility of the application of novel biotechnologies for the treatment of metal polluted wastewaters though the development of two pilot plants to be implemented in two metal polluting representative industries which are a mine and an electroplating company. Actual metal treatment technologies implemented in polluting industries fail to comply with the reduction of metal concentration required by the EU for wastewater treatments. For this reason, new technologies will be developed to overcome this problem. The biotechnologies that will be evaluated in BIOMETAL DEMO project will be: metal bioprecipitation by sulphate-reducing bacteria and immobilized phytase biocatalysis, and metal biosorption on agricultural industry by-products and biopolymers such as alginate & chitosan based materials. After the evaluation of these techniques, an optimized bioprocess or a synergy of two integrated bioprocesses will be selected to design and build two demonstration pilot plants for scaling-up the metal removal biotreatment. The feasibility of the application of the selected bioprocess will be explored at pilot plant scale in acid mine drainage and electroplating wastewaters contaminated with heavy metals. The operation will be monitored and optimized, and the kinetics and the performance of the metal removal/recovery bioprocess will be integrated within the pilot demonstration plants. Finally, an economic, social and technical analysis of the benefits of such tertiary biotreatment of metal polluted industrial wastewater will be carried out for the corresponding and related industrial sectors across EU.
- To develop, at a laboratory scale, a tertiary biological process based on the capabilities of sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) as a final polishing step to integrate the treatment of metal wastewaters resulting from different sources (e.g. mining, plating), permitting the reuse of the treated waters for irrigation.
- To use SRB communities simply enriched from environmental samples and natural and locally available substrates, which also need to be subjected to treatment, resulting in a simple, efficient and low-cost technology.
- Optimization and technical improvement of the bioprecipitation process at laboratory scale (using SRB) in order to contribute to its industrial scale implementation.
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