Sorption of organic contaminants by biopolymers: Role of polarity, structure and domain spatial arrangement

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Sorption behavior of hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs) (i.e., pyrene, phenanthrene and naphthalene) by native and chemically modified biopolymers (lignin, chitin and cellulose) was examined. Lignins (native and treated) showed nonlinear sorption for all compounds studied, emphasizing their glassy character. Chitins and celluloses had linear isotherms for phenanthrene and naphthalene, illustrating the dominance of partitioning, while pyrene yielded nonlinear isotherms. Sorption capacity (Koc) of HOCs was negatively correlated with the polarity [(O + N)/C] of the biopolymers. Aromatic and alkyl + aromatic C percentages, rather than alkyl C content, demonstrated a better correlation with Koc values, indicating the importance of aromatic structures for HOC affinity. Hydrophobicity (Kow)-normalized Koc values decreased sharply with increasing percentage of O-alkyl C versus total aliphatic C (O-alkyl C/total aliphatic C) or with polar C/(alkyl + aromatic C) ratio of the biopolymers until their values reached 80% and 4, respectively, illustrating the effect of surrounding polar groups on reducing affinity for HOCs. Overall, the results of this study highlight the role of spatial arrangement of domains within biopolymers in sorption of HOCs, and point to sorbent properties, such as functionality, polarity and structure, jointly regulating the sorption of HOCs in biopolymers. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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