J.L. Gardea-Torresdey1, J.H. Gonzalez, K.J. Tiemann, and O. Rodriguez, Department of Chemistry, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, 79968, Phone: 915-747-5359, 1Email:

ABSTRACT Previous laboratory batch experiments of Medicago sativa (alfalfa) indicated that the African shoots population had an excellent ability to bind copper(II) and nickel(II) ions from aqueous solution. Batch laboratory pH profile, time dependency, and capacity experiments were performed to determine the binding ability of the African shoots to cadmium(II), chromium(III), chromium(VI), lead(II), and zinc(II). Batch pH profile experiments for the mentioned ions indicated that the optimum pH for metal binding is approximately 5.0. Time dependency experiments for the metal ions showed that for all the metals studied, binding to the African alfalfa shoots occurred within five minutes. Binding capacity experiments revealed the following amounts of metal ions bound per gram of biomass: 7.1 mg Cd, 7.7 mg Cr(III), 43 mg Pb(II), and 4.9 mg Zn(II). However, no binding occurred for chromium(VI). Nearly all of the metals studied were recovered by treatment with 0.1M HCl, with the exception of chromium(III). Column experiments were performed to study the binding of Cd(II), Cr(III), Cr(VI), Pb(II), and Zn(II) to silica-immobilized African alfalfa shoots under flow conditions. These experiments showed that the silica-immobilized African alfalfa shoots were effective for removing metal ions from solution, and over 90% of the bound Pb(II), Cu(II), Ni(II), and Zn(II), and over 70% Cd(II), were recovered after treatment with four bed volumes of 0.1M HCl. The results from these studies will be useful for a novel phytofiltration technology to remove and recover heavy metal ions from aqueous solution.

KEYWORDS: phytofiltration, alfalfa, Medicago sativa, heavy metal binding

This paper is from the Proceedings of the HSRC/WERC Joint Conference on the Environment, May 1996, published in hard copy and on the Web by the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center.

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