Enzymatically induced phosphate precipitation (EIPP) for stabilization/solidification (S/S) treatment of heavy metal tailings

Li Jun Han, Jiang Shan Li, Qiang Xue, Ming Zhi Guo, Ping Wang, Chi Sun Poon

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The accumulation of heavy metal tailings has caused serious environmental and geological concerns. Therefore, treatment and recycling of heavy metal tailings have become urgent and vital. To this end, this paper proposes a biological solidification and stabilization (S/S) method, which applies enzymatically induced phosphate precipitation (EIPP) to strengthen Pb-Zn tailings and reduce the hazard of the heavy metals. The effectiveness and mechanism of EIPP-S/S have been systematically explored, including the effect of enzyme and reactant concentration, and tailings density on the treatment efficiency. The results showed that MgHPO4(H2O)3 (newberyite) and Pb9(PO4)6 were the main products of EIPP. The newberyite strengthened the tailings through connecting tailing particles and filling the pores, and the solidification effect was positively related to the reactant content and tailing compactness. The strength of the treated tailing sample could reach 2.7 MPa at a relative density of 90% with a reactant concentration of 1.5 M. After treatment, about 40% of Pb in the tailings changed from an acid-soluble state to oxidation state and residual state, as a result of the precipitation of Pb9(PO4)6. The concentration of leached Pb from the treated tailings under an acid rain environment was reduced from 0.86 mg/L before treatment to less than 0.02 mg/L, well below the limit of 0.1 mg/L in China's ground/surface water. This study provides new insights into the treatment and reuse of tailings by applying an innovative EIPP-S/S method, which can flexibly treat tailings in an environmentally friendly manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125577
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2022


  • Enzymatically induced phosphate precipitation (EIPP)
  • Leaching
  • Stabilization/solidification (S/S)
  • Tailings
  • Unconfined compressive strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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