A real electroplating wastewater, containing 51,190 mg/L of free cyanide (CNf), 4899 mg/L of Ni and 1904 mg/L of Cu, was treated with calcium alginate hydrogel beads (CAB), pure or impregnated with biodegraded grape marc (EBGM) or activated carbon (EAC) in order to reduce the elevated load of toxic pollutants below the regulatory limits. It was evaluated the effect of increasing the amount of bioadsorbent as well as the influence of two successive adsorption cycles in the removal efficiency of pollutants. The most favourable sorption conditions onto CAB provided removal percentages of 85.02% for CNf and between 93.40-98.21% for heavy metals regarding the raw wastewater. The adsorption capacity of each pollutant onto CAB was considerably increased during the first 30 min of contact time, but after achieving the equilibrium, the following sorption capacities were obtained: 1177, 107.3, 39.5 and 1.52 mg/g for CNf, Ni, Cu and Zn, respectively. The kinetic adsorption of pollutants onto the CAB was adjusted to different kinetic models, observing that kinetic data agreed with the pseudo-second-order model. The information about intraparticle diffusion mechanisms in the bioadsorption process was also interpreted.
Keywords: alginate beads; cyanide; electroplating wastewater; heavy metals; kinetic sorption.