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Removal of heavy metals from the environment by biosorption

Domenii publicaţii > Stiinte ingineresti + Tipuri publicaţii > Articol în revistã ştiinţificã

Autori: Maria Gavrilescu

Editorial: Wiley-VCH, Engineering in Life Sciences, 4, p.219-232, 2004.


 The pollution of the environment with toxic metal is a result of many human activities, such as mining and metallurgy, and the effects of these metals on the ecosystem are of large economic and public-health significance.
This paper presents the features and advantages of the unconventional removal method of heavy metals – biosorption – as a part of bioremediation.
Bioremediation consists of a group of applications, which involve the detoxification of hazardous substances instead of transferring them from one medium to another, by means of microbes and plants. This process is characterized as less disruptive and can be often carried out at the site, reducing the need to transport the toxic materials to treatment sites.
The biosorption (sorption of metallic ions from solutions by live or dried biomass) offers an alternative to the remediation of industrial effluents as well as the recovery of metals contained in other media.
Biosorbents are prepared from naturally abundant and/or waste biomass. Due to the high uptake capacity and very cost-effective source of raw material, biosorption is approached as a perspective method. The mechanism by which micro-organisms take up metals is relatively unclear, but it has been demonstrated that both living and non-living biomass may be utilized in biosorptive processes, as they often exhibit marked tolerance towards metals and other adverse conditions. The major advantage is especially in the treatment of large volumes of effluents with low concentration of pollutants. Models developed were presented to determine both the number of adsorption sites required to bind each metal ion and the rate of adsorption, using a batch reactor mass balance and the Langmuir theory of adsorption to surfaces or continuous dynamic systems.
Two main categories of bioreactors used in bioremediation – suspended growth and fixed film bioreactors – are discussed. Reactors with varying configurations to meet the different requirements for biosorption are analyzed considering two major groups of reactors – batch reactors and continuous reactors.
Biosorption is treated as an emerging technology effective in removing even very low levels of heavy metal.

Cuvinte cheie: biosorbenti, metale grele, izoterma de adsorbtie, bioreactoare // biosorbents, heavy metals, sorption isotherm, bioreactors