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Harvey, P.I. and CRUNDWELL, F.K. Growth of Thiobacillus ferrooxidans: A novel experimental design for batch growth and bacterial leaching studies. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 63 (1997) 2586-2592.

The concentrations of ferrous and ferric ions change dramatically during the course of the batch experiments usually performed to study the kinetics of the bacterial oxidation of ferrous ions and sulfide minerals. This change in concentration of the iron species during the course of the experiment often makes it difficult to interpret the results of these experiments, as is evidenced by the lack of consensus concerning the mechanism of bacterial leaching. If the concentrations of ferrous and ferric ions were constant throughout the course of the batch experiment, then the role of the bacteria could be easily established, because the rate of the chemical leaching should be the same at a given redox potential in the presence and in the absence of bacteria. In this paper we report an experiment designed to obtain kinetic data under these conditions. The redox potential is used as a measure of the concentrations of ferrous and ferric ions, and the redox potential of the leaching solution is controlled throughout the experiment by electrolysis. The effects of ferrous, ferric, and arsenite ions on the rate of growth of Thiobacillus ferrooxidans on ferrous ions in this redox-controlled reactor are presented. In addition, the growth of this bacterium on ferrous ions in batch culture was also determined, and it is shown that the parameters obtained from the batch culture and the redox-controlled batch culture are the same. An analysis of the results from the batch culture indicates that the initial number of bacteria that are adapted to the solution depends on the concentrations of ferrous and arsenite ions.