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Ohio Sea Grant College Program
and Stone Laboratory

Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory

Biological Removal of Mercury from Contaminated Waste

Project Number: R/PS-001, Completion Report

Start Date: 9/1/1984

Completion Date: 8/31/1987

Revision Date: 1/8/1999

Principal Investigator(s)1.Olli H. Tuovinen, Microbiology The Ohio State University*
Co-Principal Investigator(s)2.Conly L. Hansen, Environmental Engineering Utah State University*
This shows the current affiliation and may not match affiliation at time of participation. *

Funding Record

Source: Ohio Sea Grant College Program
Source FundState MatchPass Through
Total$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00

Objectives

To experimentally develop and mathematically model a biological process for removing mercury from contaminated waste. This process will be based upon the microbiological reduction and volatilization of mercury. Specific objectives are 1) to establish, experimentally, the process parameters for the continuous removal of mercury in a bioreactor, and 2) to develop a mathematical model based upon the experimental variables and paramters, for integrated process control and for facilitating the eventual scale-up of the process.

Rationale

Toxic and potentiallly hazardous heavy metals are found in wastewater from industrial sources around Lake Erie. Among these compounds mercury is one of the most toxic and best understood examples of heavy metal pollution. The proposed method of biological detoxification has distinct advantages over other methods currently applied to the mercury problem and this study will lay the groundwork for further biotechnological studies to remove and/or detoxify other toxic metals found in wastewater and sludges.

Methodology

Determine the effect of nutrient limitation and environmental factors upon the mercury removal characteristics of mixed cultures of bacteria. Optimize the efficiency and kinetics of microbial removal of Hg2+ from contaminated water or sludge under a variety of conditions. Develop a continuous model which can predict the rate and efficiency of the biological reduction Hg2+.

Benefits & Accomplishments

Accomplishments:
1986. Mercury resistant bacteria, which are able to reduce mercuric ion to metallic mercury were examined for their ability to remove mercury from sewage aerobically. A continuous culture of the resistant organism was maintained on raw sewage for two weeks during which time relatively high concentration of mercury (70 mg/1) was removed from the sewage at a rate of 2.5 mg/1 hour and at efficiencies exceeding 98%. We have also applied the biological process to treat industrial sludge from a chlor-akal plant near Lake Erie.

Benefits:
1986. The proposed biological process offers the potential of economically removing and recycling mercury from industrial wastewater and sludges. This research will also have a significant effect on the application of biotechnology to hazardous waste management. The proposed project will lay the groundwork for bio-technological studies to remove and/or detoxify other toxic metals found in wastewater and sludges.

Results:
1986. Detoxifying mercury contaminated waste from an actual industrial sample indicates the feasibility of the biological approach to the control of industrial mercury pollution.

Publications & Media

Peer-reviewed reprints
Peer-reviewed reprintsHansen, C.L., G. Zwolinski, D.Z. Martin and J.W. Williams. 1984, Bacterial Removal of Mercury from Sewage
Biotechnol. Bioeng. 26:1330-1333.
Peer-reviewed reprintsVuorinen, A., L. Carlson and O. Tuovinen. 1987, Ground Water Biogeochemisty of Iron and Manganese in Relation to Well Water Quality
In: International Symposium on Biofouled Aquifers: Prevention and Restoration (D.R. Cullimore, Ed.), pp. 157-168. American Water Resources Association, Bethesda, MD. Made available by Ohio Sea Grant as OHSU-RS-130.
Peer-reviewed reprintsPamulo, N.M. 1989, Growth Kinetics of Mercury-Resistant Bacteria in Stirred-Tank Batch Bioreactors
Made available by Ohio Sea Grant as OHSU-TD-024.
Peer-reviewed reprintsChristy, A.D, V.I. George, M.A. Burstein and C.L. Hansen. 1986, Modeling of a Biological Process for Mercury Detoxification
Proceedings of the Intern. Cong. On New Frontiers for Hazardous Waste Management. Made available by Ohio Sea Grant as OHSU-RS-057.
Peer-reviewed reprintsChristy, A. 1986, Models of a Biological Process for Mercury Decontamination
106 pages. Made available by Ohio Sea Grant as OHSU-TD-017.
Conference, symposia, or workshop proceedings, and summaries
Conference, symposia, or workshop proceedings, and summariesWilliams, J.W., C.L. Hansen, and A. Jantrania. 1986, Biological Removal of Mercury from Toxic Wastes
Proceedings of the Inter. Conf. On New Frontiers for Hazardous Waste Management.

Supported Students

StudentBurstein, Melissa (Graduate, M.S.)
The Ohio State University
Title: Optimal Mixing Regime for Lake Sediment and Microorganisms
StudentChristy, Ann (Graduate, M.S.)
The Ohio State University
Title: Model of a Biological Process for Mercury Decontamination
StudentGeorge, Vicky (Graduate, M.S.)
The Ohio State University
Title: Microcomputer Based Process Control of a Fermentation Apparatus
StudentPamulo, Nelson M. (Graduate, M.S.)
The Ohio State University
Title: Growth Kinetics of Mercury-Resistant Bacteria in Stirred-Tank Batch Bioreactors