Chemosphere 149 (2016) 146–153
The potential utilization of pine bark as a biosorbent for the treatment of metal-contaminated soils and waters has been evaluated in transport experiments using laboratory columns. Solutions containing the metals Cu, Pb, Zn, Ni or Cd, each one individually and at three different concentrations (2.5, 10 and 25 mM) were tested. Pine bark affected metal transport and the breakthrough curves, producing a reduction of their concentrations in the solution and a clear retardation with respect to an inert tracer. At metal concentrations equal to 2.5 mM, 100% of the assayed elements were removed from the solution in the pine bark column. At the 10 mM metal concentration, the percentage of metals retained fell to 38–67% of the amount added, whereas at the 25 mM metal concentration, only 16–43% was retained. In all cases, the highest retention capacity corresponded to Pb, and the lowest to Zn, whereas Cu, Cd and Ni produced intermediate comparable results. The analysis of the pine bark within the columns after the transport experiment showed that the metals entering the column adsorb progressively until a saturation concentration is reached in the whole column, and only then they can be released at significant concentrations. This saturation concentration was approximately 70 mmol kg−1 for Cd, Ni and Zn, 100 mmol kg−1 for Cu, and 125 mmol kg−1 for Pb. Overall, our experiments have shown the high effectiveness of pine bark to retain the assayed metals in stable forms of low mobility.