Biosorption RESEARCH

Dr. B. Volesky @ McGill



 Priority Target :  Toxic Metals

icon The Challenge:

  • Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, copper, to name a few, are very toxic
  • Toxic heavy  metals released by industries poison the environment and threaten water supplies. 
  • Stricter environmental disposal regulations are being enforced to avert the health hazards. 

iconThe Solution:    BIOSORPTION TECHNOLOGY icon

icon A new technology alternative has been pioneered to remove toxic heavy metals 
          from industrial effluents.   It is called biosorption.   It is effective, simple and cheap. 
It is very similar to the use of ion exchange resins which can also do the clean-up job. 
The difference is in the price of the substances used: 
icon Man-made synthetic ion exchange resins are marketed for US$ 30-50/kg
icon With the same performance, natural new biosorbents could cost less than  $(3-5)/kg
Cost-effective biosorption technology has a special edge for opening up huge environmental markets. 


     Biosorption uses the extraordinary capacity of certain types of microbial and seaweed biomass to bind and concentrate metals.  These bio-materials, are used dead - just like "magic granules"  which remove and concentrate heavy-metals from industrial effluents. 
    Suitable biomass comes as a waste material: 
      from fermentation industries or it is renewable, growing in the oceans (seaweeds). 
      In either case, the costs of biomass raw materials are extremely low. 
    New biosorbent materials can thus be extremely competitive and cost effective. 
    A McGill University based biosorption research group has been a recognized leader discovering and pioneering the novel process of biosorption for removal of toxic metals.

iconBiosorption Research                                                                                                              Top of page
iconBiosorption Process:

It uses sorption columns
Process principles are well established  and 
well understood

The difference is in the "magic granules" inside
the column - newly discovered biosorbents

Performing  like much costlier ion exchange 
resins, biosorbents can be also regenerated
for multiple re-use:  better cost-effectiveness. 

process schematics

iconSorption Columns: 

A contemporary  high-performance sorption process uses the most effective column configuration. 
Sorbent granules inside the column bind metals from flowing solution until they get saturated. 
Then the column is taken out of operation and the desorption-washing procedure follows directly in the same column releasing the metal in the concentrated form in the wash solution. 

Standard process equipment is used:  columns, pumps, valves and pipes.


Collected metal can be economically routinely recovered
for re-sale from pre-concentrated column wash solutions.
Any size of operation can be attained by adding  columns.

Purifying large volumes of contaminated wastewater can be economically feasible only with very cheap new biosorbents.

Examples of large-scale installations operating on the same principle of continuous-flow columns.            

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Biosorption RESEARCH

Dr. B. Volesky @ McGill