The Efficacy of Whole Oyster Shells for Removing Copper, Zinc, Chromium, and Cadmium Heavy Metal Ions from Stormwater




Xu, Zhiying
Valeo, Caterina
Chu, Angus
Zhao, Yao

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This research investigates the use of a common food waste product for removing four different types of metals typically found in stormwater. Whole, unprocessed oyster shells are explored for use in stormwater management infrastructure that addresses water quality concerns. The role of the shells’ surface area, exposure time, and the solution’s initial concentration on the removal efficiency were examined. Beaker scale experimental results demonstrated very good efficiency by the oyster shells for removing copper ions (80–95%), cadmium ions (50–90%), and zinc ions (30–80%) but the shells were not as effective in removing hexavalent chromium (20–60%). There was a positive relationship between initial concentration and removal efficiency for copper and zinc ions, a negative relationship for hexavalent chromium, and no relationship was found for cadmium ions. There was also a positive relationship between surface area and removal efficiency, and exposure time and removal efficiency. However, after a certain exposure time, the increase in removal efficiency was negligible and desorption was occasionally observed. A mid-scale experiment to mimic real-world conditions was conducted in which continuous inflow based on a 6-h design storm was applied to 2.7 kg of whole, unprocessed oyster shells. The shells provided an 86% and an 84% removal efficiency of cadmium and copper ions, respectively, in one day of hydraulic retention time. No removal was observed for hexavalent chromium, and zinc ion removal was only observed after initial leaching. This work has significant implications for sustainable stormwater infrastructure design using a material commonly found in municipal food waste.



heavy metals, whole oyster shells, stormwater treatment, surface area, initial concentration, exposure time, hydraulic retention time, zinc ions, copper ions, cadmium ions, hexavalent chromium


Xu, Z., Valeo, C., Chu, A., & Zhao, Y. (2021). The Efficacy of Whole Oyster Shells for Removing Copper, Zinc, Chromium, and Cadmium Heavy Metal Ions from Stormwater. Sustainability, 13(8), 1-23.