The increased industrial activity has resulted in the discharge of large amount of pollutants including non-degradable metals into the environment. Chromium is produced in several industrial processes and it can be found in the environment in two stable oxidation states, Cr(VI) and Cr(III). Cr(VI) is more hazardous due to its carcinogenic and mutagenic effects on living organisms. Although much less toxic, Cr(III) can also exert genotoxic effects under prolonged or severe exposure. It can be separated from the solution by precipitation but biosorption using brown algae seems to be an effective and sustainable treatment technique owing to its cost-effectiveness and environmental friendly characteristics. Macrocystis pyrifera
and Undaria pinnatifida
are two marine brown macroalgae with high capability of removing heavy metals including Cr(III) in batch mode of operation. In this work packed bed biosorption of Cr(III) by M. pyrifera
and U. pinnatifida
biomasses was evaluated.
The shapes of the breakthrough curves were rather different for each biomaterial. Parameters like the breakthrough time (tb
) andzone mass transfer (MTZ) showed that U. pinnatifida
has greater affinity for Cr(III). The maximum adsorption capacity at the exhaustion operating time (te
) demonstrated that M. pyrifera
has higher retention capacity of Cr(III). The experimental data were fitted to Thomas, Yoon-Nelson and Dose-Response models. The best correlation coefficient (0.94 or 0.96) was obtained with Dose-Response that accurately describes the uptake behaviour of Cr(III) on the seaweed biomasses under different experimental conditions. The FT-IR spectra evidenced that Cr(III) adsorption occurred mainly by interaction between metal and carboxylate groups present on both the seaweed surfaces.
Conclusions: M. pyrifera
and U. pinnatifida
biomasses are efficient biosorbents for Cr(III) adsorption under a continuous mode of operation although differences between uptake capacities suggest different mechanisms involved in the biosorption.