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Large-scale production of magnetic nanoparticles using bacterial fermentation



Production of both nano-sized particles of crystalline pure phase magnetite and magnetite substituted with Co, Ni, Cr, Mn, Zn or the rare earths for some of the Fe has been demonstrated using microbial processes. This microbial production of magnetic nanoparticles can be achieved in large quantities and at low cost. In these experiments, over 1 kg (wet weight) of Zn-substituted magnetite (nominal composition of Zn 0.6 Fe 2.4 O 4 ) was recovered from 30 l fermentations. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to confirm that the extracellular magnetites exhibited good mono-dispersity. TEM results also showed a highly reproducible particle size and corroborated average crystallite size (ACS) of 13.1 ± 0.8 nm determined through X-ray diffraction ( N = 7) at a 99% confidence level. Based on scale-up experiments performed using a 35-l reactor, the increase in ACS reproducibility may be attributed to a combination of factors including an increase of electron donor input, availability of divalent substitution metal ions and fewer ferrous ions in the case of substituted magnetite, and increased reactor volume overcoming differences in each batch. Commercial nanometer sized magnetite (25–50 nm) may cost $500/kg. However, microbial processes are potentially capable of producing 5–90 nm pure or substituted magnetites at a fraction of the cost of traditional chemical synthesis. While there are numerous approaches for the synthesis of nanoparticles, bacterial fermentation of magnetite or metal-substituted magnetite may represent an advantageous manufacturing technology with respect to yield, reproducibility and scalable synthesis with low costs at low energy input.



Journal of Industrial Microbiology BiotechnologySpringer Journals

Published: Oct 1, 2010

DOI: 10.1007/s10295-010-0749-y

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