Tropical forest plant could save water from metal pollution
A biomass recovered from common plant could help purify water from contamination of copper and zinc. The article by Prof. Gustavo Ferreira Coelho from the University Center Dynamic of Cataracts in Parana, Brazil and published in Open Chemistry reports on the possible use of biosorbents derived from Jatropha curcas waste, to remove heavy metal ions from water.
Once released from the industry into the environment, accumulated toxins and trace amounts of heavy metals can contaminate waterways for decades or more in concentrations high enough to pose severe health risks on human health, let alone meet the standards for potability. Conventional methods for removing heavy metals from water — such as treatment with activated carbon or more advanced technologies like ion-exchange resins — have proved very effective, but they can, however, be too expensive for use in developing countries, especially in rural areas.
This need for low cost, sustainable and ecological alternatives has fostered research on biosorption — a biological method often advised as a cheaper and more effective technique for heavy metal ion removal and recapture from industrial wastewater.
Now, the article by Prof. Gustavo Ferreira Coelho from the University Center Dynamic of Cataracts in Parana, Brazil and published in Open Chemistry reports on the possible use of biosorbents derived from Jatropha curcas waste, to remove heavy metal ions from water.
Native to the American tropics, perennial Jatropha curcas has already been hailed as unique as a potential substitute for petroleum, or as a source of biodiesel. Now, the article published in Open Chemistry suggests its use for removing heavy metal ions, i.e. — copper and zinc, from water. The biosorbents obtained from the plant appear to act similarly to commonly used commercial adsorbents. But importantly, production of Jatropha curcas biosorbents is cheaper when compared to commercial alternatives.
Coelho and his team tested three different adsorbents obtained from Jatropha curcas seeds. They checked the influence of different conditions on the adsorption of copper and zinc ions on these adsorbents and were able to figure out optimal conditions determining the top parameters for adsorption.
While still early, the researchers think that their findings add to solving the problem of water pollution by using cheap but effective and fully natural-derived adsorbents to remove heavy metal ions from water; an urgent problem for developing countries which struggle with drinking water shortages.