Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 School of Mining Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 School of Mining Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran 1439957131, Iran

3 Tabas Coal Mines Complex (TCMC), Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development & Renovation Organization (IMIDRO)

4 Iran Mineral Processing Research Center (IMPRC)



Tabas coal possesses favorable plastometric properties that make it suitable for use in metallurgical industries as coking coal. However, its high sulfur content, which stands at approximately 2%, poses a significant environmental pollution risk. Additionally, reducing ash content to below 10% is a critical objective of this study to prevent a decline in coal's thermal efficiency in the metallurgical industries. This research work investigates the removal of sulfur and ash from Tabas coal samples using the biological methods including bioflotation and bioleaching. Initially, a combination of mesophilic bacteria including Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans, and Leptosprillium ferrooxidans were employed in the bioflotation method to detain pyrite sulfur in the Tabas coal samples. The highest reduction percentages of pyrite sulfur and ash were equal to 62% and 54.18%, respectively. In the next stage, bioleaching experiments were conducted, the effect of the test time, percentage of bacteria by volume, percentage of coal solids, and absence of bacteria on the amount of sulfur and ash removal was investigated. The test time emerged as the most critical factor. The best sulfur removal was achieved using bioleaching, with a maximum removal of 72.43%, observed for the PE coal sample. Bioflotation also achieved significant sulfur removal, with a maximum removal of 61% observed for the same sample. On the other hand, the best ash removal was achieved using bioflotation, with a maximum removal of 68.98% observed for the PE coal sample, and a maximum removal of 69.34% observed for the B4B2 coal sample using bioleaching. Finally, this research work conducted a comparison of biological methods to determine the amount of sulfur and ash reduction achieved. The results showed that both bioleaching and bioflotation were effective for coal desulfurization and ash removal, with bioleaching performing slightly better for sulfur removal and bioflotation performing slightly better for ash removal.


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