Removal of Cadmium, Lead, and Zinc from Soil by a Rhamnolipid Biosurfactant

David C. Herman, Janick F. Artiola, Raina M. Miller

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178 Scopus citations


Complexation of cadmium, lead, and zinc (singly and in a mixture) by a monorhamnolipid biosurfactant produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 9027 was studied in batch solution and soil experiments. Conditional stability constants (log KL) for metal-rhamnolipid complexation in a buffered medium (0.1 M Pipes, pH 6.8) were determined in duplicate using an ion-exchange technique and averaged 6.5 (Cd2+), 6.6 (Pb2+), and 5.4 (Zn2+); these values are similar or slightly higher than literature values for Cd2+ and Pb2+ complexation with fulvic acid and activated sludge solids. To determine the ability of rhamnolipid to desorb soil-bound metals, rhamnolipid solutions (12.5, 25, 50, and 80 mM) were added to soil containing sorbed Cd2+ (1.46 mmol kg−1), Pb2+ (1.96 mmol kg−1), or a mixture of Pb2+-Cd2+-Zn2+ (3.4 mmol kg−1). At 12.5 and 25 mM rhamnolipid, rhamnolipid sorption to soil exceeded 78%, and less than 11% of soil-bound Cd2+ and Zn2+ was desorbed. However, ion exchange of bound metals with K+ present in the rhamnolipid matrix could account for the removal of between 16 and 48% of the sorbed Cd2+ and Zn2+. At 50 and 80 mM rhamnolipid, rhamnolipid sorption to soil decreased to between 20 and 77%, and the removal of Cd2+ and Zn2+ could exceed the removal by ion exchange by as much as 3-fold. The behavior of Pb2+ was quite different. Less than 2% of soil-bound Pb2+ was desorbed due to ion exchange, although up to 43% was desorbed by 80 mM rhamnolipid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2280-2285
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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