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Thermodynamic study of the biodegradation of cyanide in wastewater
The high rate of industrialisation in most developing countries has brought about challenges of wastewater management especially in the mineral processing industry. Cyanide has been used in base metal extraction processes due to its lixiviant properties thus, its presence in wastewater generated is inevitable. Furthermore, partial and/or the use of unsuitable treatment methods for such wastewater is a potential hazard to both human and the environment. There are several reports on biotechnological treatments of cyanide containing wastewater but few mineral processing industries have adopted this approach. Hence, the thermodynamic study of biodegradation of cyanide containing wastewater was undertaken. The primary aim of this study was to explore the application of bioenergetic models and biological stoichiometry to determine the functionality and thermodynamic requirements for cyanide degrading isolate (Fusarium oxysporum EKT01/02), grown exclusively on Beta vulgaris, for a system designed for the bioremediation of cyanidation wastewater. Chapter 2 reviews some of the applicable thermodynamic parameters such as enthalpy, entropy, heat of combustion, heat capacity, Gibbs energy, including stoichiometry models in relation to their applicability for microbial proliferation in cyanidation wastewater. The chapter places emphasis on the application of agro-industrial waste as a suitable replacement for refined carbon sources for microbial proliferation in bioremediation systems because such systems are environmentally benign. The choice of using agro-industrial waste is due to organic waste properties, i.e. agro-industrial waste is rich in nutrients and is generated in large quantities. Chapter 3 presents the materials and various standardised methods used to address the research gaps identified in chapter 2. For an organism to degrade free cyanide in wastewater, it must be able to survive and perform its primary function in the presence of such a toxicant. Chapter 4 exemplifies both molecular and biochemical characteristics of Fusarium oxysporum EKT01/02 isolated from the rhizosphere of Zea mays contaminated with a cyanide based pesticide. The molecular analyses confirmed the fungal isolate to be Fusarium oxysporum EKT01/02 and the nucleotide sequence of the isolates were deposited with National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) with accession numbers KU985430 and KU985431. The biochemical analyses revealed a wide substrate utilisation mechanism of the isolate dominated by aminopeptidase including nitrate assimilation capabilities. A preliminary investigation showed free cyanide degradation efficiency of 77.6% (100 mg CN-/L) after 5 days by the isolate. The excess production of extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) was attributed to the isolates’ strive to protect itself from cyanide toxicity.