Immobilization of blue green microalgae on loofa sponge to biosorb cadmium in repeated shake flask batch and continuous flow fixed bed column reactor system

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An indigenous strain of blue green microalga, Synechococcus sp., isolated from wastewater, was immobilized onto loofa sponge discs and investigated as a potential biosorbent for the removal of cadmium from aqueous solutions. Immobilization has enhanced the sorption of cadmium and an increase of biosorption (21%) at equilibrium was noted as compared to free biomass. The kinetics of cadmium biosorption was extremely rapid, with (96%) of adsorption within the first 5 min and equilibrium reached at 15 min. Increasing initial pH or initial cadmium concentration resulted in an increase in cadmium uptake. The maximum biosorption capacity of free and loofa immobilized biomass of Synechococcus sp. was found to be 47.73 and 57.76 mg g−1 biomass respectively. The biosorption equilibrium was well described by Langmuir adsorption isotherm model. The biosorbed cadmium was desorbed by washing the immobilized biomass with dilute HCl (0.1 M) and desorbed biomass was reused in five biosorption–desorption cycles without an apparent decrease in its metal biosorption capacity. The metal removing capacity of loofa immobilized biomass was also tested in a continuous flow fixed-bed column bioreactor and was found to be highly effective in removing cadmium from aqueous solution. The results suggested that the loofa sponge-immobilized biomass of Synechococcus sp. could be used as a biosorbent for an efficient removal of heavy metal ions from aqueous solution.

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