Various chemical treatments have been applied to six brown, red and green seaweed species with a view to enhancing their metal removal for Cu(II), Cr(III) and Cr(VI). Treatment with acetone resulted in the greatest enhancement for both cationic and anionic species with relatively low mass losses (15-35%), indicating its low risk to biomass operational stability. Cation binding was increased by 69%, while the total Cr removal was augmented by 15%. Cr(VI) binding was shown to be an adsorption-coupled reduction, whereby Cr(VI) was bound to the biomass surface at pH 2 and subsequently reduced to Cr(III). Acetone treatment also resulted in biomasses that were capable of converting up to 83% of Cr(VI) in solution to Cr(III). Blocking of carboxyl and amino functionalities had significant negative effects both on total Cr removal as well as percentage conversion of Cr(VI) to Cr(III). Results therefore indicated the significant role played by these moieties in metal binding to these seaweeds. Potentiometric titrations displayed agreement between the degree of esterification and the decrease in Cu(II) removal for Ulva spp. and Polysiphonia lanosa. FTIR analysis identified changes in biomass functionality and availability after chemical modification, the results of which were in agreement with metal removal studies. In conclusion, these biosorbents represent suitable candidates to replace conventional removal technologies for metal bearing wastewaters, in particular for the detoxification of hazardous Cr(VI) waste streams.
- Chemical treatment