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Two-step bioleaching of copper and gold from discarded printed circuit boards (PCB)

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149–157
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


An effective strategy for environmentally sound biological recovery of copper and gold from discarded printed circuit boards (PCB) in a two-step bioleaching process was experimented. In the first step, chemolithotrophic acidophilic Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans and Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans were used. In the second step, cyanide-producing heterotrophic Pseudomonas fluorescens and Pseudomonas putida were used. Results showed that at a 1% pulp density (10. g/L PCB concentration), 98.4% of the copper was bioleached by a mixture of A. ferrivorans and A. thiooxidans at pH 1.0-1.6 and ambient temperature (23. ±. 2. °C) in 7. days. A pure culture of P. putida (strain WCS361) produced 21.5 (±1.5). mg/L cyanide with 10. g/L glycine as the substrate. This gold complexing agent was used in the subsequent bioleaching step using the Cu-leached (by A. ferrivorans and A. thiooxidans) PCB material, 44.0% of the gold was mobilized in alkaline conditions at pH 7.3-8.6, and 30. °C in 2. days. This study provided a proof-of-concept of a two-step approach in metal bioleaching from PCB, by bacterially produced lixiviants.

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Bioleaching, Copper, Gold, PCB, Secondary resource, Two-step, WEEE

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland