Wat. Res. Vol. 35, No. 17, pp. 4079–4085, 2001
# 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved
Printed in Great Britain
0043-1354/01/$-see front matter
BIOSORPTION OF CHROMIUM(VI) FROM AQUEOUS
SOLUTIONS BY GREEN ALGAE SPIROGYRA SPECIES
V. K. GUPTA1*, A. K. SHRIVASTAVA2and NEERAJ JAIN2
1Department of Chemistry, University of Roorkee, Roorkee 247 667, India and2Department of
Civil Engineering, University of Roorkee, Roorkee 247 667, India
(First received 1 September 1999; accepted in revised form 1 March 2001)
Abstract}Biosorption of heavy metals is an effective technology for the treatment of industrial
wastewaters. Results are presented showing the sorption of Cr(VI) from solutions by biomass of
filamentous algae Spirogyra species. Batch experiments were conducted to determine the adsorption
properties of the biomass and it was observed that the adsorption capacity of the biomass strongly
depends on equilibrium pH. Equilibrium isotherms were also obtained and maximum removal of
Cr(VI) was around 14.7?103mg metal/kg of dry weight biomass at a pH of 2.0 in 120min with 5mg/l of
initial concentration. The results indicated that the biomass of Spirogyra species is suitable for the
development of efficient biosorbent for the removal and recovery of Cr(VI) from wastewater. # 2001
Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved
Key words}biosorption, adsorption, biosorbent, algae, wastewater
The presence of heavy metal ions in surface water
continues to be the most pervasive environmental
issues of present time (Hotton and Symon, 1986;
Nriagu, 1988). Chromium is one of the contami-
nants, which exists in hexavalent and trivalent forms.
Hexavalent form is more toxic (Smith and Lec, 1972)
than trivalent and requires more concern. Strong
exposure of Cr(VI) causes cancer in digestive tract
and lungs (Kaufman, 1970) and may cause epigastric
pain, nausea, vomiting, severe diarrhea and hemor-
rhage (Browning, 1969). It is therefore, essential to
remove Cr(VI) from wastewater before disposal. The
main sources of chromium(VI) are tannery, paint, ink,
dye, and aluminium manufacturing industries etc.
Chemical precipitation with lime or caustic soda is
one of the common conventional treatments, where
recovery of metals or water is not a consideration.
However, to effectively decrease metals to acceptable
levels by this treatment requires a large excess of
chemicals, which generates volumetric sludge and
increases the costs of treatment (Spearot and Peck,
1984). Other available treatments such as ion
exchange, electrolysis and reverse osmosis require
high capital investment and running costs.
The process of adsorption is by far the most
versatile and widely used technique for the removal
of metal ions. Activated carbon has been the water
industrys’ standard adsorbent for the reclamation of
municipal and industrial wastewater for potable use
for almost three decades (Fornwalt and Hutchins,
1966). Despite its prolific use in the water and waste
industries, activated carbon remains an expensive
material. In recent years, research interest into the
production of low-cost alternatives to activated
carbon has grown.
It has been demonstrated that biosorption is a
potential alternative to traditional treatment pro-
cesses of metal ions removal (Volesky, 1990). The
phenomenon of biosorption has been described in a
wide range of non-living biomass like bark (Alves
et al., 1993); lignin (Srivastava et al., 1994); and
peanut hulls (Periasamy and Namasivayam, 1994) as
well as of living biomass like fungi (Lewis and Kriff,
1988; Matheickal et al., 1991; Fourest et al., 1994),
bacteria (Scott and Palmer, 1990; Grappelli et al.,
1992; Churchill et al., 1995; Chang et al., 1997), yeast
(Huang et al., 1990; Volesky et al., 1993), moss
(Lee and Low 1989; Low and Lee 1991), aquatic
plants (Srivastav et al., 1994) and algae (Xue et al.,
1988; Yu et al., 1999). Biosorption utilizes the ability
of biological materials to accumulate heavy metals
from waste streams by either metabolically mediated,
or purely physico-chemical pathways of uptake
(Fourest and Roux, 1992).
A survey of literature indicated that not much
work has been done so far on living biomass for
heavy metal removal. Efforts made to use the algae
and aquatic plants, moss and fern for heavy metals
*Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
Tel.: +91-1332-85801; fax: +91-1332-73560; e-mail:
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Biosorption of chromium(VI) from aqueous solutions by Spirogyra Sps. 4085