Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 19, pp 19097–19118 | Cite as

Biosorption technology for removal of toxic metals: a review of commercial biosorbents and patents

  • Geovani Rocha de FreitasEmail author
  • Meuris Gurgel Carlos da Silva
  • Melissa Gurgel Adeodato Vieira
Review Article


In last decades, the biosorption process has become one of the main alternative treatment technologies for the removal of pollutants from dilute aqueous solution. Among these pollutants, toxic metals have drawn attention due to their negative effects in human body and food chain. Even though biosorption is considered a cost-effective and eco-friendly technology to remove toxic metals from dilute wastewaters, there are still obstacles that restrain its commercialization. For this reason, various scientific articles and patents have been published each year to make more effective and economical this technology. This review reports an overview of past achievements, current research of biosorption studies, and future trends for the development of the biosorption as sustainable cleaner technology. Mechanisms of metal uptake, recovery and biosorbent regeneration, process design, commercial application of biosorbents, and patents registered are presented. Finally, future aspects in biosorption research and suggestions for its application will be discussed.


Biosorption Toxic metals Metal removal Commercial application Patents registered Future prospects 



The authors received financial support from Foundation for Research Support of São Paulo State, FAPESP (Proc. 2014/04050-5, 2016/06173-2, 2017/18236-1), for this research. This study was also financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, Brasil (CAPES), Finance Code 001.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_5330_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
Table S1 showing a brief definition of the biosorption mechanisms. (DOCX 27 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Chemical Engineering, Department of Process and Products DesignUniversity of CampinasCampinasBrazil

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