Biosorption of Uranium Heavy Metals: Technology and Methods

Biosorption of Uranium Heavy Metals: Technology and Methods

Ashok K. Rathoure (Independent Researcher, India), Sudhanshu Mishra (NIMS University, India) and Sandeep Tripathi (NIMS University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4162-2.ch004


Uranium is a seriously threatening heavy metal because of its high toxicity and radioactivity. Uranium contaminates surface and groundwater. Metal removed from aqueous solutions often leads to effective metal concentration. Apart from the slow natural process of metal mineralization, removal of heavy metals is attained when the metal becomes concentrated at a point that it is either returned to the process or resold. Physical adsorption takes place due to van-der Waals' forces. Conventional methods used for uranium removal are expensive and produce huge amount of sludge (consists of toxic substances) which blockade the membrane. In this chapter, uranium removal by biosorption method is discussed. Uranium removal is attained by the use of either living microorganisms (bacteria, algae, and fungi) or their dead biomasses.
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Route Of Exposure

There are various route of exposure of uranium particularly inhalation, ingestion and dermal contact.

  • 1.

    Inhalation: Inhalation is the most common route of route exposure take place when depleted uranium is re-suspended in the atmosphere through wind or other disturbances.

  • 2.

    Ingestion: Ingestion may occur during the uranium contamination in drinking-water or food.

  • 3.

    Dermal contact: Uranium is able to passes the skin and enter into the blood stream and further it could be deposited in the body organs.


Removal Of Uranium From The Waste

Several methods are being used for Uranium removal from the aqueous wastes. These may include chemical precipitation, ion exchange, electrochemical treatment, membrane technologies, adsorption on activated carbon, etc. The most common conventional methods for removal of heavy metals from aqueous streams (Rich and Cherry, 1987) are as follows:

  • Chemical Precipitation

  • Ultrafiltration

  • Electrolysis

  • Ion Exchange

  • Reverse osmosis

  • Phytoremediation


Conventional Methods Of Heavy Metals Removal And Their Disadvantages

1. Chemical Precipitation

The heavy metal ions are precipitated by mix up with coagulants (alum, iron salts, lime and organic polymers). Te main demerit of this methods s the production of huge amount of sludge consists of toxic substances.

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