Environ Technol. 2022 Sep 24:1-30. doi: 10.1080/09593330.2022.2128892. Online ahead of print.
Bioremediation is a promising technology that can eliminate the drawbacks of conventional treatment methods in removing harmful toxic metals including chromium(VI). Therefore, in this study, fungal hyphae modified with graphite and reduced graphene oxide were synthesized and assessed for their potential to bioremediate heavy metals for the first time in the literature. The effects of the carbon-based materials on microbial structure were characterized using scanning electron microscopy analysis. Thermogravimetric, RAMAN, X-ray diffraction, and enzymatic analyzes were performed to determine the role of functional groups. In addition, batch adsorption experiments utilizing response surface methodology were conducted to optimize operating parameters such as time (1-11 h), chromium (10-50 mg/L), and graphite/reduced graphene oxide (0.1-1 g/L). The maximum adsorption capacity with the graphene fungal hyphae was determined to be 568 mg.g-1, which is 9.7 times that of the crude fungal hyphae. The Cr(VI) removal for fungal hyphae-graphite and fungal hyphae-reduced graphene oxide biocomposites was 98.25% and 98.49%, respectively. The isothermal and kinetic results perfectly matched the 2nd order pseudo-model and Langmuir model in terms of the nature of the adsorption process. The laboratory scale test results indicate that fungal hyphae modified with graphite and reduced graphene oxide have a high adsorption capacity, suitable for the removal of chromium (VI) from wastewater.