Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 230:258 | Cite as

Removal of Heavy Metals Using Rhamnolipid Biosurfactant on Manganese Nodules

  • Aleum Lee
  • Kyoungrean KimEmail author


The objective of this study is to identify the feasibility of using rhamnolipid biosurfactant to remediate heavy metals contained in manganese nodules collected from the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone, Pacific Ocean. Deep-sea manganese nodules may represent one of the most important future natural resources for heavy metals due to the depletion of resources on land. Since international marine environment guidelines for deep-sea mining will be set up by international organisations in the 2020s, remediation technologies are urgently required for deep-sea mining tailings. We show that rhamnolipid biosurfactant is an environmentally friendly substance and can be successfully used for the remediation of heavy metals in deep-sea mining tailings under various reaction conditions. Rhamnolipids therefore represent a useful extracting agent for heavy metals in deep-sea mining tailings. The removal of nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), and cadmium (Cd) would be enhanced in the presence of rhamnolipids with specific reaction times and concentrations. Future actual remediation technologies should be developed using rhamnolipid biosurfactant on the basis of these results.


Deep-sea mining tailings Heavy metals Biosurfactant Rhamnolipid, remediation Manganese nodule 


Funding Information

This research was supported by the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (PE99723), Republic of Korea.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST)KIOST School, University of Science and Technology (UST)BusanRepublic of Korea

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