Adsorption of Rhodococcus strain GIN-1 (NCIMB 40340) on titanium dioxide and coal fly ash particles

Y. Shabtai*, G. Fleminger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rhodococcus strain GIN-1 (NCIMB 40340) can be used to enrich and isolate a titanium-rich fraction from coal fly ash. The gram-positive bacterium was isolated by its ability to adhere strongly and rapidly to suspended particles of pure titanium dioxide or coal fly ash. Adsorption depends on the salt concentration and occurs in seawater. Lowering of the salt concentration or washing of particles with pure water did not, however, cause desorption of the bacteria from TiO2 particles; this was achieved by strong alkaline treatment or combined treatment with sodium dodecyl sulfate and urea but not with dilute acids, alcohols, or cationic or nonionic detergents. The bacterium exhibits higher affinity towards oxides of Ti and Zn than to other oxides with similar distribution of particle size. Moreover, it adheres much faster to TiO2 than to magnetic (Fe3O4) or Al2O3. After about 1 min, more than 85% of the cells were adsorbed on TiO2, compared with adsorption of only 10 and 8% to magnetite and Al2O3, respectively. Adsorption of the bacteria on TiO2 occurs over a pH range of 1.0 to 9.0 and at temperatures from 4 to over 80°C. Scanning electron microscopy combined with X-ray analysis revealed preferential adherence of the bacterium to coal ash particles richer in Ti. Stronger adhesion to TiO2 was also demonstrated in the translocation of bacteria, preadsorbed on magnetite, to TiO2 particles. The temporary co-adhesion to magnetite and TiO2 was exploited for the design of a prototype biomagnetic separation process in which bacterial cells serve as an adhesive mediator between magnetite and TiO2 particles in a mixture of Al, Si, and Ti oxides that simulates their proportion in the ash.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3079-3088
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


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