Valorization of Groundnut Shell Biomass for Biosorption of Hexavalent Chromium from Aqueous Solution

  •  Thembelihle Chaza    
  •  Ngonidzashe Mangoma    
  •  Tapiwa Nyakuedzwa    
  •  Thembekile Ncube    


Biosorption is a cost-effective biotechnological innovation for the removal of heavy metals from aqueous solutions. There is widespread research into ways of utilizing agricultural residues to achieve zero waste. Groundnut shells are biodegradable waste available in large quantities. This study investigated the use of groundnut shells for the biosorption of chromium (VI) ions from an aqueous solution. Groundnut shells were cleaned and crushed to make fractions of particle size in the range of 90-1000 µm. The point of zero charge (pHPZC) and the distribution of oxygenated acidic and basic surface functional groups were determined. In batch experiments, the effect of acid pre-treatment, initial metal concentration, biosorbent particle size, biosorbent dosage, and contact time on biosorption was investigated. The biomass was found to have a pHPZC value of 6 and was dominated by acidic groups. The best biosorption activity was observed at 20 mg/L initial metal concentration and a biosorbent dosage of 10%. The effect of contact time was dependent on the initial chromium (VI) concentration. At 20 mg/L initial chromium (VI) concentration, the biosorption process reached equilibrium within 60 minutes whilst at high (>80 mg) chromium (VI) concentration equilibrium was not reached, even after 240 minutes. The best biosorption activity was observed with acid-treated biomass of particle size 300 µm. The adsorption fitted best with the Langmuir isotherm model and the pseudo-second-order kinetic model (R2 > 0.9982). Groundnut shell biomass has the potential for the removal of chromium (VI) ions from aqueous solutions and possibly from chromium-polluted effluents on an industrial scale.

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