Use of algae for removing heavy metal ions from wastewater: progress and prospects.

Laboratory of Algal Biology, Department of Botany, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.
Critical Reviews in Biotechnology (Impact Factor: 7.84). 10/2008; 25(3):113-52. DOI: 10.1080/07388550500248571
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Many algae have immense capability to sorb metals, and there is considerable potential for using them to treat wastewaters. Metal sorption involves binding on the cell surface and to intracellular ligands. The adsorbed metal is several times greater than intracellular metal. Carboxyl group is most important for metal binding. Concentration of metal and biomass in solution, pH, temperature, cations, anions and metabolic stage of the organism affect metal sorption. Algae can effectively remove metals from multi-metal solutions. Dead cells sorb more metal than live cells. Various pretreatments enhance metal sorption capacity of algae. CaCl2 pretreatment is the most suitable and economic method for activation of algal biomass. Algal periphyton has great potential for removing metals from wastewaters. An immobilized or granulated biomass-filled column can be used for several sorption/desorption cycles with unaltered or slightly decreased metal removal. Langmuir and Freundlich models, commonly used for fitting sorption data, cannot precisely describe metal sorption since they ignore the effect of pH, biomass concentration, etc. For commercial application of algal technology for metal removal from wastewaters, emphasis should be given to: (i) selection of strains with high metal sorption capacity, (ii) adequate understanding of sorption mechanisms, (iii) development of low-cost methods for cell immobilization, (iv) development of better models for predicting metal sorption, (v) genetic manipulation of algae for increased number of surface groups or over expression of metal binding proteins, and (vi) economic feasibility.

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