Pine bark is a low cost sorbent originating from the forest industry. In recent years, it has been found to show promise as an adsorbent for metals and organic substances in contaminated water, especially landfill leachates and storm water. This study aims to investigate if pine bark can replace commercial adsorbents such as active carbon. An industrial effluent, collected from a treatment plant of a demilitarization factory, was diluted to form concentration ranges of contaminants and shaken with pine bark for 24 hours. Metals (e.g. Pb, Zn, Cd, As and Ni) and explosives, e.g., 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), were analysed before and after treatment. The aim of the experiment was twofold; firstly, it was to investigate whether metals are efficiently removed in the presence of explosives and secondly, if adsorption of explosive substances to pine bark was possible. Langmuir and Freundlich isotherms were used to describe the adsorption process where this was possible. It was found that metal uptake was possible in the presence of TNT and other explosive contaminants. The uptake of TNT was satisfactory with up to 80% of the TNT adsorbed by pine bark.
Keywords: adsorption, heavy metals, pine bark, TNT