Selection and Combustion of Ni-Hyperaccumulators for the Phytomining Process

Ni recovery from serpentine soils by phytomining has proved feasible. Phytomining involves the crop of hyperaccumulating plants with high Ni contents and the valorization of Ni by pyro or hydrometallurgical process. In order to evaluate the Ni content of different plants, we analyzed the organs of 14 hyperaccumulators from three genera: Alyssum, Leptoplax and Bornmuellera. The highest concentration was recorded in the leaves of Leptoplax (34.3 ± 0.7 mg g−1DM). Additionally, we investigated biomass combustion which is the first step of the process we designed to obtain a nickel salt. We showed that temperature and duration were important parameters to ensure a good quality of ashes. At the bench scale, the best conditions were 550°C and 3 h. In this way, we obtained ashes in which Ni could reach 20 wt%. Biomass ashes can be considered as a bio-ore for recovering metal value.