Experimental Treatment of Hazardous Ash Waste by Microbial Consortium Aspergillus niger and Chlorella sp.: Decrease of the Ni Content and Identification of Adsorption Sites by Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy

Front Microbiol. 2021 Dec 7;12:792987. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.792987. eCollection 2021.

ABSTRACT

Despite the negative impact on the environment, incineration is one of the most commonly used methods for dealing with waste. Besides emissions, the production of ash, which usually shows several negative properties, such as a higher content of hazardous elements or strongly alkaline pH, is problematic from an environmental viewpoint as well. The subject of our paper was the assessment of biosorption of Ni from ash material by a microbial consortium of Chlorella sp. and Aspergillus niger. The solid substrate represented a fraction of particles of size <0.63 mm with a Ni content of 417 mg kg-1. We used a biomass consisting of two different organisms as the sorbent: a non-living algae culture of Chlorella sp. (an autotrophic organism) and the microscopic filamentous fungus A. niger (a heterotrophic organism) in the form of pellets. The experiments were conducted under static conditions as well as with the use of shaker (170 rpm) with different modifications: solid substrate, Chlorella sp. and pellets of A. niger; solid substrate and pellets of A. niger. The humidity-temperature conditions were also changed. Sorption took place under dry and also wet conditions (with distilled water in a volume of 30-50 ml), partially under laboratory conditions at a temperature of 25°C as well as in the exterior. The determination of the Ni content was done using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). The removal of Ni ranged from 13.61% efficiency (Chlorella sp., A. niger with the addition of 30 ml of distilled water, outdoors under static conditions after 48 h of the experiment) to 46.28% (Chlorella sp., A. niger with the addition of 30 ml of distilled water, on a shaker under laboratory conditions after 48 h of the experiment). For the purpose of analyzing the representation of functional groups in the microbial biomass and studying their interaction with the ash material, we used Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. We observed that the amount of Ni adsorbed positively correlates with absorbance in the spectral bands where we detect the vibrations of several organic functional groups. These groups include hydroxyl, aliphatic, carbonyl, carboxyl and amide structural units. The observed correlations indicate that, aside from polar and negatively charged groups, aliphatic or aromatic structures may also be involved in sorption processes due to electrostatic attraction. The correlation between absorbance and the Ni content reached a maximum in amide II band (r = 0.9; P < 0.001), where vibrations of the C=O, C-N, and N-H groups are detected. The presented results suggest that the simultaneous use of both microorganisms in biosorption represents an effective method for reducing Ni content in a solid substrate, which may be useful as a partial process for waste disposal.

PMID:34950123 | PMC:PMC8689076 | DOI:10.3389/fmicb.2021.792987

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