Journal of environmental management

Microbial biofilms for the removal of Cu²⁺ from CMP wastewater.

PMID 26093466


The modern semiconductor industry relies heavily on a process known as chemical mechanical planarization, which uses physical and chemical processes to remove excess material from the surface of silicon wafers during microchip fabrication. This process results in large volumes of wastewater containing dissolved metals including copper (Cu(2+)), which must then be filtered and treated before release into municipal waste systems. We have investigated the potential use of bacterial and fungal biomass as an alternative to the currently used ion-exchange resins for the adsorption of dissolved Cu(2+) from high-throughput industrial waste streams. A library of candidate microorganisms, including Lactobacillus casei and Pichia pastoris, was screened for ability to bind Cu(2+) from solution and to form static biofilm communities within packed-bed adsorption columns. The binding efficiency of these biomass-based adsorption columns was assessed under various flow conditions and compared to that of industrially used ion-exchange resins. We demonstrated the potential to regenerate the biomass within the adsorption columns through the use of a hydrochloric acid wash, and subsequently reuse the columns for additional copper binding. While the binding efficiency and capacity of the developed L. casei/P. pastoris biomass filters was inferior to ion-exchange resin, the potential for repeated reuse of these filters, coupled with the advantages of a more sustainable "green" adsorption process, make this technique an attractive candidate for use in industrial-scale CMP wastewater treatment.