Macroalgal biosorption has shown promise for the removal of metal ions from wastewaters, whose presence can pose a threat to the aquatic environment. There is a wealth of literature published on macroalgal biosorption, the common thread being that the biosorbent material was collected from the field, under undefined conditions. These studies offer little insight into the impact of prior cultivation or biomass production practices upon the biosorbent material, its adsorptive physico-chemical properties and its subsequent capacity for metal removal. The present study sought to investigate the influence of changes in macroalgal cultivation, specifically nutrient regime, upon biomass properties and the resultant adsorption performance. The macroalga Cladophora parriaudii was cultivated under six different nutrient regimes; 2:1 and 12:1 N:P molar ratios, with nitrogen supplied either as ammonium (NH4+), nitrate (NO3−), or urea (CO(NH2)2). These nutrient regimes were designed to produce biomass of varying biochemical and cell surface profiles. After cultivation, the biomass was rinsed, dried, biochemically analysed and then used for the removal of four individual metals from solution. Metal removal varied considerably between treatments and across initial metal concentrations, with removal values of 46–85%, 9–80%, 8–71%, and 49–94% achieved for Al, Cu, Mn, and Pb, respectively, with initial metal concentrations varying between 0 and 150 mg L−1. The observed variation in metal removal can only be attributed to differences in biochemistry and cell surface properties of the biosorbent induced by nutrient regime, as all other variables were constant. This study demonstrates that prior cultivation conditions influence the biochemistry of a biosorbent material, namely macroalgae Cladophora parriaudii, which has an impact upon metal removal. This aspect should be given due consideration for future biosorption research and when reviewing already published literature.
- Heavy metals
- Biochemical composition