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Comment Water Treatment

Removing harmful metals from wastewater with crab shells

By Paul Grad |

Copper and cadmium exist naturally in the environment, but human activity can increase their concentrations to a point where they become a health hazard. Conventional wastewater treatment to remove those metals includes chemical precipitation, coagulation, flocculation, ion exchange, membrane filtration, activated carbon, and the use of carbon nanotubes. However, naturally occurring biosorbents can clean up contaminated water at the same efficiency, and with little impact on the environment and on human health. Crab shells from Scylla serrata (mud crab) proved to be a good biosorbent for removing copper and cadmium from industrial wastewater by researchers from the Universiti Putra Malaysia (Serdang, Malaysia; www.upm.edu.my). The researchers chose crab shells due to their abundance and ready availability as waste products. The crushed crab shells were able to remove up to 94.7% of copper (5 mg/L initial concentration), and 85.1% of cadmium (1 mg/L initial concentration). The conditions (pH = 6, T = 25°C) closely matched the wastewater effluent characteristics from industrial mining and metal refining. Crab shells consist of calcium carbonate and protein (29.19%), ash (40.60%), lipids (1.35%), and chitin (26.65%) on a dry weight…
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