Identification of more effective biocatalysts than Thiobacillus ferrooxidans has been of interest for the optimization of biological removal of inorganic sulfur from coal. The recently isolated thermoacidophile, Metallosphaera sedula, leaches metal sulfides at rapid rates and could be a feasible biocatalytic alternative for such use. The bioenergetic and biocatalytic features of M. sedula as they apply to metal leaching, with particular attention to coal pyrite oxidation, are currently being evaluated. The questions examined include 1. (1) how does M. sedula compare with other microorganisms with similar bioleaching capabilities, 2. (2) how do inorganic energy substrates factor into M. sedula's metabolic scheme, and 3. (3) how can higher metal leaching rates be achieved with M. sedula? To answer these questions, the relation between the organism's metabolic energy sources (sulfur, iron pyrite, organic compounds) and intracellular energy-requiring reactions is being studied. It is hoped that this framework can be used to evaluate and improve the various microbial options for inorganic sulfur removal from coal.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Fuel Technology
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Organic Chemistry