Rock phosphate solubilization by abiotic and fungal-produced oxalic acid: reaction parameters and bioleaching potential

Gilberto de Oliveira Mendes (Lead / Corresponding author), Thomas Dyer, Laszlo Csetenyi, Geoffrey Michael Gadd

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Abstract

Oxalic acid‐producing fungi play an important role in biogeochemical transformations of rocks and minerals and possess biotechnological potential for extraction of valuable elements from primary or waste ores and other solid matrices. This research investigates the extraction of phosphate from rock phosphate (RP) by oxalic acid. Reaction parameters were derived using pure oxalic acid solutions to solubilize RP. It was found that the oxalic acid concentration was the main factor driving reaction kinetics. Excess oxalic acid could retard the reaction due to calcium oxalate encrustation on RP surfaces. However, complete P extraction was reached at stoichiometric proportions of apatite and oxalic acid. This reaction reached completion after 168 h, although most of the P (up to 75%) was released in less than 1 h. Most of the Ca released from the apatite formed sparingly soluble calcium oxalate minerals, with a predominance of whewellite over weddellite. Bioleaching of RP employing biomass‐free spent culture filtrates containing oxalic acid (100 mM) produced by Aspergillus niger extracted ~ 74% of the P contained in the RP. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the reaction between apatite and oxalic acid and provide insights for potential applications of this process for biotechnological production of phosphate fertilizer.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalMicrobial Biotechnology
Early online date12 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2021

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