Bio-removal of Pb, Cu, and Ni from solutions as nano-carbonates using a plant-derived urease enzyme–urea mixture

Abstract

This study focuses on utilizing a plant-derived urease enzyme (PDUE)–urea mixture to remove heavy metals from water as constituents of nano-carbonate minerals. The bio-removal process was conducted by individually mixing PbCl2, CuCl2, and NiCl2 solutions with a PDUE–urea mixture, followed by incubation for 24 h at 23 ± 2 °C. The preliminary results revealed that the proposed method exhibited high Pb removal efficiency (˃ 99%) in a short time (8 h); meanwhile, moderate Cu and Ni removal efficiencies (67.91% and 58.49%, respectively) were obtained at the same incubation time. The concentration of heavy metals (50–200 mM) had an insignificant effect on the bio-removal rate, indicating that the PDUE–urea mixture is highly effective for the removal of heavy metals at different concentrations. The bio-removal process involved the transformation of soluble heavy metals into insoluble carbonate materials. A spherically shaped nano-cerussite (4–15 nm), a malachite hexahydrate nanosheet (thickness 8 nm), and an ultrafine micro-hellyerite (thickness 0.3 μm) were the main minerals produced by the Pb, Cu, and Ni bio-removal processes, respectively. As a beneficial application, nano-cerussite was used as an additive in an alkali-activated slag/ceramic waste-based geopolymeric coating. A preliminary study proved that increasing the nano-cerussite content enhanced the resistance of the geopolymeric coating to sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, which is detrimental to normal concrete, particularly in sewer systems.

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Correspondence to Hamdy A. Abdel-Gawwad.

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Abdel-Gawwad, H.A., Hussein, H.S. & Mohammed, M.S. Bio-removal of Pb, Cu, and Ni from solutions as nano-carbonates using a plant-derived urease enzyme–urea mixture. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-09359-y

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Keywords

  • Urea hydrolysis
  • Removal rate
  • Heavy metal concentration
  • Biocarbonation
  • Nanosheets
  • Geopolymeric coating
  • Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria
  • Atomic force microscopy