Minerals Engineering, Vol.81, 173-178, 2015
Potential use of native fungal strains for assisted uranium retention
Uranium-stabilizing ligands can be useful complexing agents for uranium in aqueous solution. The discovery of novel ligand candidates for selective uranium capture in artificial and natural waters could provide scope for their use in water remediation and metal recovery from low- and high grade ores. In this study we used seven fungal strains, isolated from shale waste, to monitor the uranium retention capacity from an aqueous solution. After four weeks of incubation, suspensions containing the fungal strains were filtered, and up to 100% of the total uranium inventory was removed from a 10 mg L-1 solution. Approximately 70% of the total uranium removal is attributed to complexation and/or adsorption by particles in the malt extract and some 10% is adsorbed by the fungal biomass. The additional 20% uranium removed could be related to the excretion of fungal metabolites. From 58% to 90% of the uranium is removed within ten minutes. The formation of colloidal/particulate uranium is proposed to be controlled by organic ligands in the culture medium and organic ligands excreted by the fungi where phosphorus moieties seem to be important. Membrane fouling by the hydrocarbons is also suggested to contribute to a loss of uranium from the aqueous phase. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.