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An investigation of heavy metal biosorption in relation to C/N ratio of activated sludge

The effect of ON ratio of activated sludge on heavy metal biosorption was investigated. Three sets of semi-continuous reactors with different feed ON ratios (9, 21 and 43 mg COD/mg TKN) were set up. Sorption equilibrium tests have indicated that the biosorptive capacity of activated sludge was highly dependent on metal species and the ON ratio. The increase in ON ratio resulted in an increase in the Cd(II) sorption capacity of activated sludge whereas it decreased the Cu(II) sorption capacity. As for Zn(II), a different behavior was observed such that, the highest and lowest capacities have occurred at ON ratio of 21 and 43, respectively. For Ni(II) biosorption, isotherm tests produced greatly scattered data; so, it was not possible to obtain any plausible result to indicate the relationship between maximum adsorptive capacity and C/N ratio. The accompanying release of Ca(II) and Mg(II) ions and also carbohydrates into the solution during biosorption have indicated that ion exchange mechanism was involved however, was not the only mechanism during the sorption process.