Palladium Recovery in a H<sub>2</sub>‑Based Membrane Biofilm Reactor: Formation of Pd(0) Nanoparticles through Enzymatic and Autocatalytic Reductions

Recovering palladium (Pd) from waste streams opens up the possibility of augmenting the supply of this important catalyst. We evaluated Pd reduction and recovery as a novel application of a H<sub>2</sub>-based membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR). At steady states, over 99% of the input soluble Pd­(II) was reduced through concomitant enzymatic and autocatalytic processes at acidic or near neutral pHs. Nanoparticulate Pd(0), at an average crystallite size of 10 nm, was recovered with minimal leaching and heterogeneously associated with microbial cells and extracellular polymeric substances in the biofilm. The dominant phylotypes potentially responsible for Pd­(II) reduction at circumneutral pH were denitrifying β-proteobacteria mainly consisting of the family <i>Rhodocyclaceae</i>. Though greatly shifted by acidic pH, the biofilm microbial community largely bounced back when the pH was returned to 7 within 2 weeks. These discoveries infer that the biofilm was capable of rapid adaptive evolution to stressed environmental change, and facilitated Pd recovery in versatile ways. This study demonstrates the promise of effective microbially driven Pd recovery in a single MBfR system that could be applied for the treatment of the waste streams, and it documents the role of biofilms in this reduction and recovery process.