The large-scale process of microbial carbonate precipitation for nickel remediation from an industrial soil

Xuejiao Zhu, Weila Li, Lu Zhan, Minsheng Huang, Qiuzhuo Zhang, Varenyam Achal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Microbial carbonate precipitation is known as an efficient process for the remediation of heavy metals from contaminated soils. In the present study, a urease positive bacterial isolate, identified as Bacillus cereus NS4 through 16S rDNA sequencing, was utilized on a large scale to remove nickel from industrial soil contaminated by the battery industry. The soil was highly contaminated with an initial total nickel concentration of approximately 900 mg kg−1. The soluble-exchangeable fraction was reduced to 38 mg kg−1 after treatment. The primary objective of metal stabilization was achieved by reducing the bioavailability through immobilizing the nickel in the urease-driven carbonate precipitation. The nickel removal in the soils contributed to the transformation of nickel from mobile species into stable biominerals identified as calcite, vaterite, aragonite and nickelous carbonate when analyzed under XRD. It was proven that during precipitation of calcite, Ni2+ with an ion radius close to Ca2+ was incorporated into the CaCO3 crystal. The biominerals were also characterized by using SEM-EDS to observe the crystal shape and Raman-FTIR spectroscopy to predict responsible bonding during bioremediation with respect to Ni immobilization. The electronic structure and chemical-state information of the detected elements during MICP bioremediation process was studied by XPS. This is the first study in which microbial carbonate precipitation was used for the large-scale remediation of metal-contaminated industrial soil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-155
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biominerals
  • Calcite
  • NiCO
  • Nickel
  • Remediation
  • Urease


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