A mathematical process model for cadmium precipitation by sulfate-reducing bacterial biofilms

Christopher White, John S. Dennis, Geoffrey M. Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    Sulfate-reducing bacterial (SRB) biofilms were grown in a flowcell in which the biofilm was grown on a fixed area of support which was supplied with recirculating medium of defined composition, volume and circulation rate. Utilization rates for substrates, production rates for products and material mass-balances for substrates and Cd were determined and a mathematical model constructed based on theoretical considerations and experimental data. The rate of sulfate reduction was zero-order with respect to sulfate concentration and unaffected by the presence of 250 μM Cd. However, Cd reacted with the sulfide produced by the SRB to produce solid CdS, removing sulfide from solution. A significant fraction of colloidal CdS was formed which flocculated relatively slowly, limiting the overall rate of Cd bioprecipitation. Experiments using chemically-synthesised colloidal CdS indicated that the biofilm did not influence colloidal Cd flocculation but stimulated sedimentation of the CdS precipitate once flocculated. A mathematical model of bioprecipitation was developed in which the CdS formation rate was determined by two steps: sulfide production by the biofilm and colloidal CdS flocculation. This model accurately predicted the behaviour of further experimental runs which indicated the adequacy of the overall process description, The model also indicated that the rate of sulfate reduction and the rate of flocculation were the key variables in optimising the biofilm system for metal removal.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)139-151
    Number of pages13
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • Biofilms
    • Cadmium
    • Metal accumulation
    • Process model
    • Sulfate-reducing bacteria

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Engineering
    • Microbiology
    • Bioengineering
    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Pollution


    Dive into the research topics of 'A mathematical process model for cadmium precipitation by sulfate-reducing bacterial biofilms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this