Sorption equilibria for trichloroethene on algae

Barth F. Smets, Bruce E. Rittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The sorption of chlorinated solvents by algae can remove the solvents from natural waters and wastewaters treated in stabilization lagoons and other phototrophically active treatment processes. The equilibrium sorption of 14C-labeled trichloroethene (TCE) to three species of algae-Chlorella vulgaris, Scenedesmus quadricauda and Selenastrum capricornutum-was studied in batch reactors in which no biotransformations occurred. The sorption density was nonlinear with respect to equilibrium TCE concentration. The Freundlich isotherm, Q = KCn, successfully described the sorption equilibria, and n was greater than 1 for all three species. Thus, the apparent bioconcentration factor (BCF) increased with increasing TCE concentrations. Empirical correlations that predict the BCF as a function of the compound's octanol-water partition coefficient gave BCF values about one order of magnitude lower than shown by these experiments with algae. The content and distribution of lipids within the algae appear to cause substantially greater sorption by algae than by other forms of organic solids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-360
Number of pages6
JournalWater Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • algae
  • bioconcentration
  • isotherm
  • partitioning
  • sorption
  • trichloroethene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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