The adsorption of rhamnolipid, a multicomponent biosurfactant with potential application in soil remediation, to two sandy soils was investigated using batch and column studies. The surfactant mixture contained six anionic components differing in lipid chain length and number of rhamnose moieties. Batch adsorption experiments indicated that the overall adsorption isotherms of total surfactant and of the individual components leveled off above a concentration at which micelles were formed. Column experiments showed that the retardation factors for the total surfactant and for the individual components decreased with increasing influent concentration. Extended tailing was observed in the distal portion of the surfactant breakthrough curve. The concentration-dependent retardation factors and the extended tailing are in accordance with the nonlinear (concave) adsorption isotherms found in the batch adsorption studies. The more hydrophobic rhamnolipid components were preferentially adsorbed, but adsorption was not correlated with the organic carbon content of the soil. This suggests that adsorption of rhamnolipid to soil is not a partitioning process but mainly an interfacial adsorption process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry