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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Jun 1;39(11):4060-5.

Surface complexation modeling of proton and Cd adsorption onto an algal cell wall.

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  • 1University of Notre Dame, Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, 156 Fitzpatrick Hall, Notre Dame, Indiana, 46556-0767, USA.


This study quantifies Cd adsorption onto the cell wall of the algal species Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata by applying a surface complexation approach to model the observed adsorption behavior. We use potentiometric titrations to determine deprotonation constants and site concentrations for the functional groups on the algal cell wall. Adsorption and desorption kinetics experiments illustrate that adsorption of Cd onto the cell wall is rapid and reversible, except under low pH conditions. Adsorption experiments conducted as a function of pH and total Cd concentration yield the stoichiometry and site-specific stability constants for the important Cd-algal surface complexes. We model the acid/base properties of the algal cell wall by invoking four discrete surface functional group types, with pKa values of 3.9 +/- 0.3, 5.4 +/- 0.1, 7.6 +/- 0.3, and 9.6 +/- 0.4. The results of the Cd adsorption experiments indicate that the first, third, and fourth sites contribute to Cd adsorption under the experimental conditions, with calculated log stability constant values of 4.1 +/- 0.5, 5.4 +/- 0.5, and 6.1 +/- 0.4, respectively. Our results suggest that the stabilities of the Cd-surface complexes are high enough for algal adsorption to affect the fate and transport of Cd under some conditions and that on a per gram basis, algae and bacteria exhibit broadly similar extents of Cd adsorption.

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