Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 611–620 | Cite as

Gracilaria waste biomass (sampah rumput laut) as a bioresource for selenium biosorption

  • David A. RobertsEmail author
  • Nicholas A. Paul
  • Symon A. Dworjanyn
  • Yi Hu
  • Michael I. Bird
  • Rocky de Nys


Iron-based sorbents (IBS) are a promising tool for the removal of toxic metalloids, in particular, selenium (Se), from mining waste water. However, a barrier to the application of IBS is the absence of a sustainable and cost-effective substrate for their production. We demonstrate that IBS can be produced from the waste biomass that remains after the commercial extraction of agar from farmed seaweed (Gracilaria; Rhodophyta). The biosorbent is most effective when the waste Gracilaria biomass is treated with a ferric solution, then converted to biochar through slow pyrolysis. The resulting IBS is capable of binding both selenite (SeIV) and selenate (SeVI) from waste water. The rate of selenate (SeVI) biosorption, the predominant and most intractable form of Se in industrial waste water, is minimally affected by temperature. Similarly, the capacity of the biosorbent for Se (q max) is unaffected by pH. The q max values for the optimised biosorbent range from 2.60 to 2.72 mg SeVI g−1 biochar between pH 2.5 and 8.0. Gracilaria waste is a sustainable substrate for IBS production and can be used to treat a costly waste problem. The use of Gracilaria waste as a substrate for waste water treatment could simultaneously improve the sustainability and profitability of seaweed farming by valorizing a low-value waste stream.


Selenium Biosorption Gracilaria Biochar 



We thank Charlotte Johansson for assistance with the laboratory experiments and Tony Forsyth for assistance in preparing the biochar. This research is part of the MBD Energy Research and Development programme for Biological Carbon Capture and Storage. This project is supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (AMCRC), funded through the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centre Scheme, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). SAD was supported by a grant from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Supplementary material

10811_2014_346_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (39 kb)
Table S1 Elemental composition of un-treated Gracilaria waste biochar. (PDF 38 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Roberts
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicholas A. Paul
    • 1
  • Symon A. Dworjanyn
    • 2
  • Yi Hu
    • 3
  • Michael I. Bird
    • 4
  • Rocky de Nys
    • 1
  1. 1.MACRO – the Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology, and School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.National Marine Science CentreSouthern Cross UniversityCoffs HarbourAustralia
  3. 3.Advanced Analytical CentreJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  4. 4.School of Earth and Environmental Science and Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability ScienceJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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