Anaerobic Bioprocess For Liberating Gold And
Small Business Information
920 Technology Blvd., Bozeman, MT, 59715
DR. ROBERT M. HUNTER
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will advance a novel anaerobic bioprocess forliberating precious metals from metal-sulfide ores. As near-surface, oxidized ore reserves are depleted,gold producers are increasingly faced with the challenge of extracting gold and other metal values fromsulfidic ores that are refractory to conventional processing techniques. This often puts mining concernsat odds with forest and agricultural interests. At present, when the demand is high for more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly ore processing options, bioprocessing as currently implementedis considered impractical for large-scale applications for three reasons: (1) slurry cooling requirementson the order of megawatts, (2) difficulties in delivering oxygen into slurries at very high rates, and (3)excessive neutralization of reagent costs and sludge production. This research will employ the tools ofthe bioprocess engineering discipline to overcome these issues. It will encourage widespread adoptionof a bioprocess that is more energy efficient and environmentally acceptable than the alternatives,roasting and autoclaving, which significantly impact air and water resources. Based on thethermodynamics and microbiology of each step in the bioprocess, kinetic and stoichiometric modelswill be developed. An experimental apparatus will be constructed and proof-of-concept experimentswill be conducted.
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