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Fiset J.F., Blais J.F., Ben Cheikh R. and R.D. Tyagi (2000). Review on Metal Removal from Effluents by Adsorption on Sawdust and Wood Barks. Rev. Sci. Eau 13 (3) : 325-349. [article in French]

Original title: Revue sur l'enlèvement des métaux des effluents par adsorption sur la sciure et les écorces de bois.

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Wood industry by-products such as barks and sawdusts have been widely studied in recent years for their property of metal adsorption and metal removal from contaminated effluents. Concerning the utilization of sawdusts, many researchers have studied metal adsorption on material from species such as red fir, mango, lime, pine, cedar, teak, Japanese red pine and Japanese beech. As regards wood barks, several species were studied, in particular pine, oak and spruce. The present review gives a progress report on the efficiency of these various inexpensive materials for the adsorption of different metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn). The points discussed relate to the preparation methods (washing, drying, screening) and the chemical treatments of the adsorbents (acid or base treatment, formaldehyde treatment, phosphatation, carboxylation, sulfoethylation, carboxymethylation, etc.). We also consider the operating conditions used during adsorption, the thermodynamic, kinetic and other models applicable to the adsorbent-adsorbate couple, the effect of the operational parameters (time of contact, pH, temperature, adsorbent concentration, particle size, etc.), as well as the principles and mechanisms involved in metal removal by the adsorbents.

The accumulation of organic or inorganic matter at the solid-liquid interface is the basis of almost all surface reactions. Adsorption is often a process described in terms of isotherms, which represent the relationship between the concentration of a solute in solution and the quantity adsorbed at the surface at constant temperature. The isotherms are often used to establish the maximum adsorption capacity of a given adsorbent for metals. Langmuir and Freundlich isotherms are the most frequently used and their models are presented in this review.

Knowledge of adsorption parameters is essential for understanding the adsorption mechanisms involved. Usually, the maximum adsorption capacity for sawdusts and barks is reached after one hour. The pH of the ambient water is a very important parameter because it affects the metal adsorption capacities. For most of the metals studied, the adsorption capacity increases when the pH increases. The opposite effect is observed for metals involved in an anionic complex (Cr, Se, Pt, Au). Metal adsorption efficiency also improves with increases in substrate concentration because there are more available adsorption sites. Metal adsorption is affected by an another important factor, the particle size. In effect, a smaller size particle increases the specific surface and improves the adsorption capacity. The presence of anions in the effluent doesn't appear to have a great effect on adsorption results with sawdusts. However, some anions were reported to have an influence on the metal adsorption capacities of barks. In the case of a metal mixture, the presence of one metal may influence, compete or exclude the recovery of another metal from the solution.

Sawdusts contain lignin, cellulose, tannin and protein. Wood tannin likely serves as a primary adsorption site for divalent cations. The application of chemical treatments on sawdusts could modify the lignin functional groups. Other studies regarding the participation of major components of barks (lignin, carbohydrate and protein) in the adsorption process revealed the involvement of amine and carboxyl functional groups. The proposed mechanism involves an ion-exchange process. This phenomenon suggests that cationic exchange is the active mechanism for some wood species, in agreement with the work of some researchers.

Currently, only a few industries use plant biomass to eliminate metals in wastewater. To encourage industries to use this biotechnology, research has to be oriented towards the cheapest and most competitive process rather than the current and conventional process. Forest waste products are produced in large quantities in several countries. They constitute easily-available resources of low cost. Future research in this field should be focused on cheap new chemical treatments to apply to by-products to improve their adsorption capacities.


Metals, adsorption, bark wood, sawdust, biomass, wastewater, effluents.

Corresponding author

Jean-François Blais, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS-Eau, Terre & Environnement), Université du Québec, 2800, rue Einstein, bureau 105, C.P. 7500, Sainte-Foy, QC, G1V 4C7, CANADA

Email : jf_blais@ete.inrs.ca
Telephone : (418) 654-2541 / Fax : (418) 654-2600

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Update: 2006-12-20
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