Use of Gracilaria chilensis biomass for heavy metals adsorption in mine waste water

F. Ríos, M. Sánchez, F. Vergara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Fundamental research, at laboratory scale, on the biomass adsorption capacity of a liquid mining effluent has been done. The biomass used corresponds to a Chilean seaweed called Gracilaria chilensis. The waste water effluent corresponds to clear water coming from thickeners of a Chilean copper mining operation. The biomass was dried, washed, treated with an acid solution, and then reduced in size. A characterization of Zeta potential was made, finding negative values in a wide pH range with a ZPC equal to 2.51. Adsorption tests were made in an agitated system containing an artificial solution of CuSO4 at a controlled temperature of 25 degrees Celsius; also, the effect of pH over the copper adsorbed was studied. Maximal adsorption of copper was found at pH equal to 6, and the Langmuir model indicated values for saturation of 52.08 mg/g and for standard free energy of about -21 KJ/mol. Kinetic adsorption was very high and fitted very well with a second order model equation, finding that 90 per cent of the adsorption occurred during the initial 10 minutes. After stoichiometric when 1 mol of copper is adsorbed, 2 mol hydrogen are released, showing that the main mechanism to remove heavy metals is the ionic exchange, and the seaweed ensures total discharge of copper adsorbed when the pH value is about 1. Experiments done with real waste water from thickeners leads us to conclude that optimal results for copper and molybdenum adsorption are at pH around 3.25 and the remaining treated water may be partially discharged into the water currents, thus showing that Gracilaria chilensis can be used to remove heavy metals easily from liquid effluents in the copper mining industry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication4th International Conference COPPER 99-COBRE 99
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


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