Heavy metal pollution is one of the most important environmental problems today even threatening human life. A large number of industries produce and discharge wastes containing different heavy metals into the environment which do not comply with current EU directives. BIOMETAL DEMO project aims at demonstrating the feasibility of the application of novel biotechnological techniques for the treatment of metal polluted wastewaters though the development of three pilot plants to be implemented in three metal polluting representative industries which are a mine, an electroplating and a ceramic tile company.

Actual metal treatment technologies implemented in polluting industries fail to comply with the reduction of metal concentration required by the EU for wastewater treatments. For this reason, new technologies will be developed to overcome this problem.

The biotechnologies that will be evaluated in BIOMETAL DEMO project, to assess their feasibility of application for the biological rehabilitation of representative industrial wastewaters contaminated with heavy metals, will be:


Bioprecipitation by means of sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB).


Bioprecipitation using a plant phytase, which catalyses the hydrolysis of organic “phosphate donor” molecules, such as phytic acid and phytates.


Biosorption by means of residual biomass provided by the agrifood, marine and textile industries.


Biosorption using biopolymers: chitosan, alginate and other related materials.

After the evaluation of these techniques, an optimized bioprocess or a synergy of two integrated bioprocesses will be selected to design and build two demonstration pilot plants for scaling-up the metal removal biotreatment.

The feasibility of the application of the selected bioprocess will be explored at pilot plant scale in acid mine drainage, electroplating and ceramic tile wastewaters contaminated with heavy metals.

The operation will be monitored and optimized, and the kinetics and the performance of the metal removal/recovery bioprocess will be integrated within the pilot demonstration plants. Finally, an economic, social and technical analysis of the benefits of such tertiary biotreatment of metal polluted industrial wastewater will be carried out for the corresponding and related industrial sectors across EU.

environment Biometal