SXPS (Synchrotron X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy) and NEXAFS (Near Edge X-ray Absorption Fine Structures) have been applied to study the surface chemical species of chalcopyrite leached by a moderate thermophilic consortia, Leptospirillum ferrooxidans and a mesophilic mixed culture of L. ferrooxidans, Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans. A sulfur-rich layer dominated by Sn2- developed with time, which was found to control the rate of bioleaching. Fe L2,3-edge NEXAFS and Fe 2p spectra indicate the formation of jarosite during bioleaching. Thermophiles significantly enhanced the leaching efficiency, in which 1.34 g/L copper was dissolved in 25 days, while less than 0.3 g/L copper was released in 30 °C bioleaching. This was mostly caused by the increased abiotic reaction rate. The solution copper concentration in presence of L. ferrooxidans was higher than that with mesophilic mixed culture, which suggests the synergistic effect of mixed microorganisms did not play a comparably important role as temperature under the conditions used in this study. Explicit evidence of elemental sulfur was only found in samples leached by L. ferrooxidans by Raman spectroscopy. However, the formation of elemental sulfur does not significantly hinder the leach rate.
- Surface species