In this research, the capabilities of culture supernatants generated by the oxalate-producing fungus Aspergillus niger for the bioprecipitation and biorecovery of cobalt and nickel were investigated, as was the influence of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) on these processes. The removal of cobalt from solution was >90% for all tested Co concentrations: maximal nickel recovery was >80%. Energy-dispersive X-ray analysis (EDXA) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) confirmed the formation of cobalt and nickel oxalate. In a mixture of cobalt and nickel, cobalt oxalate appeared to predominate precipitation and was dependent on the mixture ratios of the two metals. The presence of EPS together with oxalate in solution decreased the recovery of nickel but did not influence the recovery of cobalt. Concentrations of extracellular protein showed a significant decrease after precipitation while no significant difference was found for extracellular polysaccharide concentrations before and after oxalate precipitation. These results showed that extracellular protein rather than extracellular polysaccharide played a more important role in influencing the biorecovery of metal oxalates from solution. Excitation–emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence spectroscopy showed that aromatic protein-like and hydrophobic acid-like substances from the EPS complexed with cobalt but did not for nickel. The humic acid-like substances from the EPS showed a higher affinity for cobalt than for nickel.
- Aspergillus niger
- Extracellular polymeric substances
- Fluorescence quenching