In this study, Rosa damascena leaf powder was evaluated as a biosorbent for the removal of copper from aqueous solutions. Process variables such as the biosorbent dose, pH, and initial copper concentration were optimized using response surface methodology. A quadratic model was established to relate the factors to the response based on the Box–Behnken design. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to assess the experimental data, and multiple regression analysis was used to fit it to a second-order polynomial equation. A biosorbent dose of 4.0 g/L, pH of 5.5, and initial copper concentration of 55 mg/L were determined to be the best conditions for copper removal. The removal of Cu2+ ions was 88.7% under these optimal conditions, indicating that the experimental data and model predictions were in good agreement. The biosorption data were well fitted to the pseudo-second-order and Elovich kinetic models. The combination of film and intra-particle diffusion was found to influence Cu2+ biosorption. The Langmuir and Dubinin–Radushkevich isotherm models best fit the experimental data, showing a monolayer isotherm with a qmax value of 25.13 mg/g obtained under optimal conditions. The thermodynamic parameters showed the spontaneity, feasibility and endothermic nature of adsorption. Scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy were used to characterize the biosorbent before and after Cu2+ biosorption, revealing its outstanding structural characteristics and high surface functional group availability. In addition, immobilized R. damascena leaves adsorbed 90.7% of the copper from aqueous solution, which is more than the amount adsorbed by the free biosorbent (85.3%). The main mechanism of interaction between R. damascena biomass and Cu2+ ions is controlled by both ion exchange and hydrogen bond formation. It can be concluded that R. damascena can be employed as a low-cost biosorbent to remove heavy metals from aqueous solutions.
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