Continuous packed bed biosorption of copper by immobilized seaweed biomass

K.F. Tan1, K.H. Chu2*, M.A. Hashim1

1 Department of Chemical Engineering University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2 Department of Chemical and Process Engineering University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand

Received 30 April 2002; accepted 12 October 2002


The biosorption of copper by inactivated biomass of the brown seaweed Sargassum baccularia, immobilized onto polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) gel beads, was investigated using a laboratory-scale packed bed column. Continuous-flow column tests were performed to determine breakthrough curves at two different column lengths. In both cases, a very broad trailing edge of the breakthrough curve was observed, indicating the presence of intraparticle diffusion resistance within the biomass beads. Such asymmetric breakthrough curves could not be described by a simplified two parameter packed bed model. A positive aspect of the PVA-immobilized biomass was that its copper uptake capacity remained essentially unaltered over two consecutive cycles of adsorption-desorption. The biomass beads could be regenerated for reuse with an aqueous solution containing 4 mM ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. The robustness and stability of the immobilized biomass beads could lead to the development of an efficient and cost-effective bioremediation technology for the removal and recovery of toxic metals from aqueous solutions.

Keywords: Algae; Biosorption; Fixed bed; Immobilized biomass; Seaweeds

* Corresponding author
   E-mail : khim.chu@canterbury.ac.nz