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Title: Low temperature formation of ferric arsenate
Author: Lewis, Robert Alec
ISNI:       0000 0004 2688 4668
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2009
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The safe disposal of arsenic (As) is important for the metal extraction industry worldwide. Previous work has shown that crystalline ferric arsenate (FeAsO4·2H2O), which is the synthetic version of the natural mineral scorodite, fulfils most of the criteria for safe disposal. Presently, this requires the use of expensive pressurised equipment in industrial applications. There is increasing evidence that microorganisms play an important part in the geochemical cycle of As. In environmental samples, bacteria are often closely associated with mineral precipitates, as well as in bioleaching samples. Strains of acidophilic bacteria (Acidithiobacillus spp., Leptospirillum spp., Sulfobacillus spp. and Thiomonas spp.) have been enriched and isolated in liquid and on solid media from rock samples from former mine sites in the Czech Republic and the UK, and experiments carried out to determine whether the bacteria can catalyse the formation of ferric arsenate. Crystalline ferric arsenate has been identified in material precipitated by an environmental strain of Acidithiobacillus spp. in liquid media within 150 h-1 at 35°C and pH 3.0. Acidithiobacillus spp. also precipitated poorly crystalline ferric arsenate at pH 2.4 25°C. An environmental strain of Leptospirillum spp. also showed slightly crystalline scorodite at pH 1.5 25° and at pH 3.0 35°C. There is no evidence that the selected bacteria can precipitate ferric arsenates on solid media, however, despite varying concentrations of As added as As3+ or As5+. Material formed has been x-ray amorphous due to rapid formation, and FTIR analyses have shown no increase in crystallinity with age over the months in which the precipitates have been studied.
Supervisor: Plant, Jane ; Monhemius, John Sponsor: Stanley Elmore Fellowship Fund ; Anglo American plc
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral