Science & Research

Sorption of Aluminium from Water in Inorganic and Organic Sorbents

In the nature, aluminium is the third most frequent element. Most often, it is firmly bound in the rocks. In natural waters, it occurs in a soluble form, mostly simultaneously with iron, and only in very low concentrations usually not exceeding mg.l-1.

In acidification of the environment, e.g. by acid rains or civilisation impacts, aluminium bound in the rocks is released to the soluble form of aluminous salts. The effects of acidification are eventually very hazardous for ecosystems.

The biological importance of aluminium has not been sufficiently explained until now. It is classified as a microelement. Higher concentrations of aluminium may have toxic effect on the organism, and they penetrate the food by scratching or by leaching from aluminium cooking utensils.

It was found that in case of dysfunction of kidneys, it has neurotoxic effect on the organism. The symptoms of intoxication are attacks, speech problems, and symptoms of dementia identified as Alzheimer disease. For toxicity of aluminous salts is decisive the anion. The most toxic ones are Cl-, NO3- and SO42. In waters, the toxicity of aluminium is mostly visible in the fish. It has strong toxic effect in low values of pH (around 4). With increased pH of water to the alkali range, the toxicity of aluminium again rises.

Application of aluminium in various industrial branches, in food industry, cosmetics or medicine is multiple. Also in the water engineering, filter alum is used as a coagulant for treatment of drinking water. In trials, a natural zeolite – klinoptilolite was tested, testing its sorption capacity with the sorption ability of the myceliar substance Penicillium glabrum.

For monitoring the sorption of aluminium from the water environment in the organic sorbent, three types of fibrous micromycetas were used. Penicillium glabrum belongs to the kinds distributed all over the world. The stem that was worked with was isolated from the humid environment in the water treatment station.

In the model laboratory trials, non-inhibited growth of Penicillium glabrum was marked, in the whole tested range of high concentrations of Al2 (SO4)3 and practically its entire (100 %) sorption to myceliar biomass. It is an interesting finding in view of the general knowledge that aluminium in higher concentrations is toxic for organisms.

The results of the tests showed that both materials, klinoptilolite and micromycetas, are suitable for removing aluminium from the water environment, and the sorption process is quicker in using an inorganic sorbent.
In: Water Management Journal No. 11/2003, p. 18

Information and Contact:

Ing. Eleonora Franková,
Ing. Danica Barlokova, PhD.
PhD. Ing. Jan Ilavsky, PhD.,
Slovak Technical University
Faculty of Civil Engineering
Department of Health Engineering
Radlinskeho 11, 813 68 Bratislava 1,
Tel: 00421 2 5927 4111
Telefax: 00421 2 5296 7027

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