Agricultural by-products as low-cost sorbents for the removal of heavy metals from dilute wastewaters



n the last years, much attention has been focused on the use of low-cost adsorbents for the removal of Cu(II) and Zn(II) from contaminated waters. In this context, we studied the sorption performances of two kinds of by-products resulted from the agriculture: soy bran and mustard husk. The effects of contact time, the initial metal ion concentration, pH, sorbent mass, and temperature on the adsorption capacity of the agricultural by-products as sorbents were investigated. The thermodynamic parameters associated with the adsorption process indicated that the process is spontaneous and endothermic. Modeling of experimental adsorption isotherm data showed that non-linear Langmuir isotherm fits better than other isotherms. The obtained values for the separation factor, R L were less than one which supports that the adsorption process was favorable. The obtained results indicated that the soy bran has a higher sorption capacity toward zinc ions (74.02 mg g−1) than mustard husk (63.69 mg g−1). Therefore, there is a great requirement for the search of biomaterials that are cheap and easily available for the removal of heavy metal ions from wastewater. The studied sorbents have the advantage of very low cost and great availability for simple operational experiments.


Heavy metal Adsorption By-products Langmuir isotherm Freundlich isotherm 



One of the authors (D. Humelnicu) would like to thank Dr. Mirela Suchea for her help in the SEM images discussions.


  1. Ajjabi, L. C., & Chouba, L. (2009). Biosorption of Cu2+ and Zn2+ from aqueous solutions by dried marine green macroalga Chaetomorpha linum. Journal of Environmental Management, 90, 3485–3489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aksu, Z., & Isoglu, I. A. (2005). Removal of copper(II) ions from aqueous solution by biosorption onto agricultural waste sugar beet pulp. Process Biochemistry, 40, 3031–3044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alslaili, T. M., Abustan, I., Ahmad, M. A., & Foul, A. A. (2014). Kinetics and equilibrium adsorption of iron (II), lead (II), and copper(II) onto activated carbon prepared from olive stone waste. Desalination and Water Treatment, 52, 7887–7897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Babel, S., & Kurniawan, T. A. (2003). Low-cost adsorbents for heavy metals uptake from contaminated water: a review. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 97, 219–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Banu, I. (2008). Potential of maize cobs for removal Zn(II) and Ni(II) in aqueous system. Revista de Chimie Bucharest, 59, 1375–1377.Google Scholar
  6. Bojic, A. L., Bojic, D., & Andjelkovic, T. (2009). Removal of Cu2+ and Zn2+ from model wastewaters by spontaneous reduction-coagulation process in flow conditions. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 168, 813–819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bratskaya, S. Y., Pestov, A. V., Yatluk, Y. G., & Avramenko, V. A. (2009). Heavy metals removal by flocculation/precipitation using N-(2-carboxyethyl)chitosans. Colloid Surface, 339, 140–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, P., Atly Jefcoat, I., Parrish, D., Gill, S., & Graham, E. (2000). Evaluation of the adsorptive capacity of peanut hull pellets for heavy metals in solution. Advances in Environmental Research, 4, 19–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chan, B. K. C., & Dudeney, A. W. L. (2008). Reverse osmosis removal of arsenic residues from bioleaching of refractory gold concentrates. Minerals Engineering, 21, 272–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cséfalvay, E., Pauer, V., & Mizsey, P. (2009). Recovery of copper from process waters by nanofiltration and reverse osmosis. Desalination, 240, 132–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Das, Nilanjana, Karthika, P., Vimala, R., Vinodhini, V. (2008). Use of natural products as biosorbent of heavy metals. An overview. Natural Product Radiance, 7, 133–138.Google Scholar
  12. Deans, J. R., & Dixon, B. G. (1992). Uptake of Pb2+ and Cu2+ by novel biopolymers. Water Research, 26, 469–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Doula, M. K. (2009). Simultaneous removal of Cu, Mn and Zn from drinking water with the use of clinoptilolite and its Fe-modified form. Water Research, 43, 3659–3672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Everett, A. J. (1998). Adsorption of metals by geomedia. California: Academic.Google Scholar
  15. Ferro-Garcia, M. A., Rivera-Ultrilla, J., Rodriguez-Gordillo, J., & Bautista-Toledo, I. (1988). Adsorption of zinc, cadmium and copper on activated carbons obtained from agricultural by-products. Carbon, 26, 363–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ho, Y. S., & McKay, G. (2004). Sorption of copper (II) from aqueous solution by peat. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 158, 77–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Huisman, J. L., Schouten, G., & Schultz, C. (2006). Biologically produced sulphide for purification of process streams, effluent treatment and recovery of metals in the metal and mining industry. Hydrometallurgy, 83, 106–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Inglezakis, V. J., Stylianou, M. A., Gkantzou, D., & Loizidou, M. D. (2007). Removal of Pb(II) from aqueous solutions by using clinoptilolite and bentonite as adsorbents. Desalination, 210, 248–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jai, P. H., Wook, J. S., Kyu, Y. J., Gil, K. B., & Mok, L. S. (2007). Removal of heavy metals using waste eggshell. Journal of Environmental Science, 19, 1436–1441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kim, H. J., Baek, K., Kim, B. K., & Yang, J. W. (2005). Humic substance-enhanced ultrafiltration for removal of cobalt. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 122, 31–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Korus, I., & Loska, K. (2009). Removal of Cr(III) and Cr(VI) ions from aqueous solutions by means of polyelectrolyte-enhanced ultrafiltration. Desalination, 247, 390–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Landaburu-Aguirre, J., García, V., Pongrácz, E., & Keiski, R. L. (2009). The removal of zinc from synthetic wastewaters by micellar-enhanced ultrafiltration: statistical design of experiments. Desalination, 240, 262–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Larous, S., Meniai, A. H., & Lehocine, M. B. (2005). Experimental study of the removal of copper from aqueous solutions by adsorption using sawdust. Desalination, 18, 483–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lee, S. H., & Yang, J. W. (1997). Removal of copper in aqueous solution by apple wastes. Separation Science Technology, 32, 1371–1387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mata, Y. N., Blázquez, M. L., Ballester, A., González, F., & Muñoz, J. A. (2009). Sugar-beet pulp pectin gels as biosorbent for heavy metals: preparation and determination of biosorption and desorption characteristics. Chemical Engineering Journal, 150, 289–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Moore, J., & Ramamoorthy, S. (1984). Heavy metals in natural waters: applied monitoring and impact assessment. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mouni, L., Merabet, D., Bouzaza, K., & Belkhiri, L. (2010). Removal of Pb2+ and Zn2+ from aqueous solutions by activated carbon prepared from Dates stones. Desalination and Water Treatment, 16, 66–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Oliveira, L.S., Franca, A.S. (2008). Low-cost adsorbents from agri-food wastes. Food Science and Technology New Research, 171–209.Google Scholar
  29. Özer, A., Ekiz, H. I., Özer, D., Kutsal, T., & Çaglar, A. (1997). A staged purification process to remove heavy metal ions from wastewater using R. arrhizus. Process Biochemistry, 32, 319–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ozsoy, H. D., & Kumbur, H. (2006). Adsorption of Cu(II) ions on cotton boll. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 136, 911–916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Romera, E., Gonzalez, F., Ballester, A., Blazquez, M. L., & Munoz, J. A. (2007). Comparative study of biosorption of heavy metals using different types of algae. Bioresource Technology, 98, 3344–3353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tunali, S., Akar, T., Ozcan, A. S., Kiran, I., & Ozcan, A. (2006). Equilibrium and kinetics of biosorption of lead(II) from aqueous solutions by Cephalosporium aphidicola. Separation Purification Technology, 47, 105–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wang, X., & Qin, Y. (2005). Equilibrium sorption isotherms for of Cu2+ on rice bran. Process Biochemistry, 40, 677–680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Weber, T. W., & Chakkravorti, R. K. (1974). Pore and solid diffusion models for fixed-bed. AIChE Journal, 20, 228–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.“Al. I. Cuza” University of Iasi, Faculty of ChemistryIasiRomania
  2. 2.“Petru Poni” Institute of Macromolecular ChemistryIasiRomania

Personalised recommendations