Bioremoval and recovery of metal ions by growing microalgae and via microwave assisted pyrolysis

Yanling Cheng, Wanqing Wang, Wei Hua, Wenhui Liu, Paul Chen, Roger Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Heavy metal pollution in water bodies is threatening all kinds of inhabiting organisms. In order to alleviate heavy metal burden in wastewaters, bioremovals of copper (II), zinc (II) and aluminum (III) from aqueous solutions using fresh microalgae Chlorella vulgaris were investigated. Effects of different pH value, retention time, and initial metal ions and microalgae biomass concentrations on heavy metal removals were evaluated. In appropriate conditions, 85% of copper (II), 84% of zinc (II) and 99% of aluminum (III) could be removed from the solutions by the microalgae within 20 minutes. Through pyrolysis of the microalgae used for the bio-sorption metal ions, the metals were further concentrated in the charcoal. The results showed that 97.92% Al, 98.59% Cu and 96.79% Zn stayed in the char portion. The metals in the microalgae feedstock improved the biofuel production during microwave assisted pyrolysis and reduced heating time to about half of that without biosorption metal. The results indicated that metal ion recovery by microalgae and microwave-assisted pyrolysis had prodigious potential applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Agricultural Engineering Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported International Science and Technology Cooperation Program of China (2014DFA61040, 2015DFA60170), The National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (863 Program 2014AA022002, 2015AA020200), Beijing Natural Science Foundation of China (KZ201411417038) and USDA, USDOT/DOE Sun Grants, Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), and University of Minnesota MNDrive, Serendipity Grant, Institute on the Environment, and Center for Biorefining.


  • Bioremoval
  • Metal ions
  • Microalgae
  • Pyrolysis


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