Carnauba (Copernicia prunifera) palm tree biomass as adsorbent for Pb(II) and Cd(II) from water medium

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Plant-based biomass (CFB (carnauba fruit biomass)) obtained from the fruit exocarp of the species Copernicia prunifera (Mill.) H.E. Moore (carnauba) was evaluated for its viability as an adsorbent of potentially toxic metals in aqueous medium. The CFB was characterized by powder X-ray spectroscopy (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and zeta potential to investigate the morphology of the biosorbent and its interaction with water soluble metal ions of Pb and Cd. The biomass presents an amorphous structure, with negative zeta potential (− 2.59 mV), and the presence of functional groups such as O-H, C-O-C, C-H, and C=O. The removal potential of Pb(II) and Cd(II) was performed in a batch system, and monoelement solutions were tested to assess the effects of adsorbent dose and initial metal ion concentration, pH at the point of zero charge (pHPZC), sorption kinetics, and adsorption capacity. The most appropriate adsorbent concentration was 5 g/L, and sorption studies were carried out at pH 5.0 (pHPZC = 4.68), in which the surface of the adsorbent shows negative charges and favors the adsorption of metal ions. Kinetic studies showed that the pseudo-second order model best fit the experimental data, and equilibrium was reached at 120 min of contact time. The experimental sorption capacity (SCexp) for Pb and Cd was around 28 and 34 mg/g, respectively, and six different non-linear isotherm models were used to describe the sorption phenomena, among them, four with 2 parameters, i.e., Langmuir, Freundlich, Temkin, and Dubinin-Radushkevich (DR), respectively, and two with 3 parameters, namely, SIPS and Hill. The non-linear Temkin and Freundlich isotherm models best fit the experimental data for Pb(II) and Cd(II), respectively. According to the Langmuir model, Qmax was 26 mg/g and 58 mg/g for Pb(II) and Cd(II), respectively, indicating the efficiency of CFB as a new alternative to conventional methods for the removal of potentially toxic metals from aqueous medium.

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We also thank Dr. Geórgia Labuto from the Federal University of São Paulo, for her kind assistance with the adsorption isotherms discussion that greatly enriched the manuscript.

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The authors are grateful to Fundação Cearense de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (FUNCAP) and to the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for the financial support and scholarships provided.

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Correspondence to Elma Neide Vasconcelos Martins Carrilho.

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Oliveira, M.R.F., do Vale Abreu, K., Romão, A.L.E. et al. Carnauba (Copernicia prunifera) palm tree biomass as adsorbent for Pb(II) and Cd(II) from water medium. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020).

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  • Waste biomass
  • Biosorption
  • Heavy metals
  • Monolayer isotherms