Table of Contents
Journal of Mining
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 290275, 10 pages
Review Article

Biochemical Engineering Parameters for Hydrometallurgical Processes: Steps towards a Deeper Understanding

K. Kundu1,2 and A. Kumar1,3

1Department of Biochemical Engineering, Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh 208002, India
2Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi 110016, India
3BIOMATH, Department of Mathematical Modelling, Statistics and Bioinformatics, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Gent, Belgium

Received 10 November 2013; Revised 10 March 2014; Accepted 26 March 2014; Published 27 April 2014

Academic Editor: Luigi Toro

Copyright © 2014 K. Kundu and A. Kumar. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Increasing interest in biomining process and the demand for better performance of the process has led to a new insight toward the mining technologies. From an engineering point of view, the complex network of biochemical reactions encompassed in biomining would best be performed in reactors which allow a good control of the significant variables, resulting in a better performance. The subprocesses are in equilibrium when the rate of particular metal ion; for example, iron turnover between the mineral and the bacteria, is balanced. The primary focus is directed towards improved bioprocess kinetics of the first two subprocesses of chemical reaction of the metal ion with the mineral and later bacterial oxidation. These subprocesses are linked by the redox potential and controlled by maintenance of an adequate solids suspension, dilution rate, and uniform mixing which are optimised in bioreactors during mining operations. Rate equations based on redox potential such as ferric/ferrous-iron ratio have been used to describe the kinetics of these subprocesses. This paper reviews the basis of process design for biomining process with emphasis on engineering parameters. It is concluded that the better understanding of these engineering parameters will make biomining processes more robust and further help in establishing it as a promising and economically feasible option over other hydrometallurgical processes worldwide.