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Environmental science and pollution research international.
Vol. 19, No: 4, 2012, Pages: 1066 - 83.

Bioremediation of industrial effluents containing heavy metals using brewing cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a green technology: a review.

Soares EV, Soares HM.

Bioengineering Laboratory, Chemical Engineering Department, Superior Institute of Engineering, Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Rua Dr António Bernardino de Almeida, 431, 4200-072, Porto, Portugal.

Abstract

The release of heavy metals into the environment, mainly as a consequence of anthropogenic activities, constitutes a worldwide environmental pollution problem. Unlike organic pollutants, heavy metals are not degraded and remain indefinitely in the ecosystem, which poses a different kind of challenge for remediation. It seems that the "best treatment technologies" available may not be completely effective for metal removal or can be expensive; therefore, new methodologies have been proposed for the detoxification of metal-bearing wastewaters. The present work reviews and discusses the advantages of using brewing yeast cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the detoxification of effluents containing heavy metals. The current knowledge of the mechanisms of metal removal by yeast biomass is presented. The use of live or dead biomass and the influence of biomass inactivation on the metal accumulation characteristics are outlined. The role of chemical speciation for predicting and optimising the efficiency of metal removal is highlighted. The problem of biomass separation, after treatment of the effluents, and the use of flocculent characteristics, as an alternative process of cell-liquid separation, are also discussed. The use of yeast cells in the treatment of real effluents to bridge the gap between fundamental and applied studies is presented and updated. The convenient management of the contaminated biomass and the advantages of the selective recovery of heavy metals in the development of a closed cycle without residues (green technology) are critically reviewed.

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