New Carbon Nanomaterials for Water Purification from Heavy Metals

  • Alexander E. BurakovEmail author
  • Irina V. Burakova
  • Evgeny V. Galunin
  • Anastasia E. Kucherova
Reference work entry


Nowadays, the problem of wastewater contamination with toxic heavy metal ions is rather acute. In this regard, there is a need for advanced approaches to wastewater treatment. (Ad)sorption appears to be one of the most effective techniques for removing heavy metal ions from aquatic environments. This process is flexible in design and operation and allows for producing high-quality treated wastewater effluents. The efficiency of sorbents depends on the following parameters: medium pH, temperature, sorbate initial concentration, sorbent dose, contact time, and stirring speed. Taking into account the aforementioned, the chapter presents a review on extracting heavy metals from different aqueous solutions using various sorbent materials – conventional (activated carbons, zeolites, clays, biosorbents, industrial by-products, etc.) and, particularly, nanostructured (fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, graphene, graphene oxide). The latter can be employed both in their original and functionalized forms, thereby resulting in increased maximum sorption capacity for the majority of heavy metal ions and shorter time for achieving equilibrium in sorption systems compared to the conventional materials. Besides, the nanomodification of the commonly used sorbents to improve their sorption properties is considered herein. This process can be carried out, for instance, via catalytic pyrolysis of hydrocarbons employing catalysts obtained via the sol-gel and thermal decomposition methods. Finally, a special focus is made on the perspectives of further wider applications of nanostructured materials (especially, carbon nanotudes, graphene, and graphene oxide) as heavy metal sorbents in wastewater treatment.



The work was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation under State Assignment No. 16.1384.2017/PCh.


  1. 1.
    Ren X, Chen C, Nagatsu M, Wang X (2011) Carbon nanotubes as adsorbents in environmental pollution management: a review. Chem Eng J 170:395–410Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Roccaro P, Sgroi M, Vagliasindi FGA (2013) Removal of xenobiotic compounds from wastewater for environment protection: treatment processes and costs. Chem Eng Trans 32:505–510Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ariffin N, Abdullah MMAB, Mohd Arif Zainol MRR, Murshed MF, Zain H, Faris MA, Bayuaji R (2017) Review on adsorption of heavy metal in wastewater by using geopolymer. MATEC Web Conf 97:01023Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Fu F, Wang Q (2011) Removal of heavy metal ions from wastewaters: a review. J Environ Manag 92:407–418Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sahu JN, Acharya J, Meikap BC (2009) Response surface modeling and optimization of chromium (VI) removal from aqueous solution using tamarind wood activated carbon in batch process. J Hazard Mater 172(2):818–825Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bisht R, Agarwal M, Singh K (2016) Heavy metal removal from wastewater using various adsorbents: a review. J Water Reuse Desalin. Scholar
  7. 7.
    Shaheen SM, Derbalah AS, Moghanm FS (2012) Removal of heavy metals from aqueous solution by zeolite in competitive sorption system. Int J Environ Sci Dev 3(4):362–367Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ansari Khalkhali R, Omidvari R (2005) Adsorption of mercuric ion from aqueous solutions using activated carbon. Pol J Environ Stud 14:185–188Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kurniawan TA, Chan GYS, Lo WH, Babel S (2005) Comparisons of low-cost adsorbents for treating wastewaters laden with heavy metals. Sci Total Environ 366(2–3):409–426Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Barakat MA (2011) New trends in removing heavy metals from industrial wastewater. Arab J Chem 4:361–377Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Liu X, Wang M, Zhang S, Pan B (2013) Application potential of carbon nanotubes in water treatment: a review. J Environ Sci (China) 25(7):1263–1280Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Singh N, Gupta SK (2016) Adsorption of heavy metals: a review. Int J Innov Res Sci Eng Technol 5(2):2267–2281Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Rao GP, Lu C, Su F (2007) Sorption of divalent metal ions from aqueous solution by carbon nanotubes: a review. Sep Purif Technol 58:224–231Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Darwish AD (2013) Fullerenes, annual reports on the progress in chemistry. Inorg Chem 109:436–452Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Burakov A, Romantsova I, Kucherova A, Tkachev A (2014) Removal of heavy-metal ions from aqueous solutions using activated carbons: effect of adsorbent surface modification with carbon nanotubes. Adsort Sci Technol 32(9):737–747Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gopalakrishnan A, Krishnan R, Thangavel S, Venugopal G, Kim SJ (2015) Removal of heavy metal ions from pharmaeffluents using graphene-oxide nanosorbents and study of their adsorption kinetics. J Ind Eng Chem 30:14–19Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Akpor OB, Ohiobor GO, Olaolu TD (2014) Heavy metal pollutants in wastewater effluents: sources, effect and remediation. Adv Biosci Bioeng 2(4):37–43Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Baldwin DR, Marshall WJ (1999) Heavy metal poisoning and its laboratory investigation. Ann Clin Biochem 36(3):267–300Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Harvey PJ, Handley HK, Taylor MP (2015) Identification of the sources of metal (lead) contamination in drinking waters in north-eastern Tasmania using lead isotopic compositions. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22:12276–12288Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ahmaruzzaman M (2011) Industrial wastes as low-cost potential adsorbents for the treatment of wastewater laden with heavy metals. Adv Colloid Interface 166(1–2):36–59Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Shi WJ, Peng MC (2004) Removal from heavy metals from wastewater by sulfhydryl cellulose. Chem Ind For Prod 24(2):65–68Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Athanasekou CP, Romanos GE, Kordatos K, Kasselouri-Rigopoulou V, Kakizis NK, Sapalidis AA (2010) Grafting of alginates on UF/NF ceramic membranes for wastewater treatment. J Hazard Mater 182(1):611–623Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Hamawand I (2015) Review of wastewater treatment chemicals and organic chemistry alternatives for abattoir effluent, Technical report. Australian Meat Processor Corporation, 64pGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gunatilake SK (2015) Methods of removing heavy metals from industrial wastewater. J Multidiscip Eng Sci Stud 1(1):12–18Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Yan W, Gao B-Y, Yue Q-Y, Zhou W-Z, Chu Y-B (2005) On-line optical determination of floc size of Fe(III) coagulants. J Environ Sci 17(6):921–925Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Jiang JQ, Zeng Z, Pearce P (2004) Preparation and use of modified clay coagulants for wastewater treatment. Water Air Soil Pollut 158(1–4):53–65Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Sanak-Rydlewska S, Zieba D (2002) The removal of copper and lead ions from waste water by precipitation or on the ionites. Inż środowiska 7(2):241–251Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Lim AP, Aris AZ (2014) A review on economically adsorbents on heavy metals removal in water and wastewater. Rev Environ Sci Biotechnol 13(2):163–181Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Fiset J-F, Blais J-F, Ben Cheikh R, Dayal Tyagi R (2000) Review on metal removal from effluents by adsorption on sawdusts and wood barks. Rev Sci Eau 13(3):325–349Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Dos Santos VCG, Tarley CRT, Caetano J, Dragunski DC (2010) Assessment of chemically modified sugarcane bagasse for lead adsorption from aqueous medium. Water Sci Technol 62(2):457–465Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Coelho GF, Goncalves AC Jr, Tarley CRT, Casarin J, Nacke H, Francziskowski MA (2014) Removal of metal ions Cd (II), Pb (II), and Cr (III) from water by the cashew nut shell Anacardium occidentale L. Ecol Eng 73:514–525Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Rostami H, Brendley W, Bahadory M (2001) Removal of cadmium and chromium from contaminated water using alkali activated fly ash permeable reactive barrier (AFA-PRB). J Solid Waste Technol Manag 127(3–4):107–111Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Abo-El-Enein SA, Eissa MA, Diafullah AA, Rizk MA, Mohamed FM (2009) Removal of some heavy metals ions from wastewater by copolymer of iron and aluminum impregnated with active silica derived from rice husk ash. J Hazard Mater 172(2–3):574–579Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Khraisheh MAM, Al-degs YS, Mcminn WAM (2004) Remediation of waste-water containing heavy metals using raw and modified diatomite. Chem Eng J 99(2):177–184Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Rao MM, Ramana DK, Seshaiah K, Wang MC, Chien SWC (2009) Removal of some metal ions by activated carbon prepared from Phaseolus aureus hulls. J Hazard Mater 166:1006–1013Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Melezhyk AV, Kotov VA, Tkachev AG (2016) Optical properties and aggregation of graphene nanoplatelets. J Nanosci Nanotechnol 16(1):1067–1075Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Sharma VK, McDonald TJ, Kim H, Gark VK (2015) Magnetic graphene-carbon nanotubes iron composites as adsorbents and antibacterial agents for water purification. Adv Colloid Interface 225:229–240Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Kroto HW, Heath JR, O’Brien SC, Curl RF, Smalley RE (1985) C60: Buckminsterfullerene. Nature 318:162–163Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Mojica M, Alonso JA, Mendez F (2013) Synthesis of fullerenes. J Phys Org Chem 26(7): 526–539Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Zhang BT, Zheng X, Li HF, Lin JM (2013) Application of carbon-based materials in sample preparation: a review. Anal Chim Acta 784:1–17Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Valcarcel M, Cardenas S, Simonet BM, Moliner-Martinez Y, Lucena R (2008) Carbon nanostructures as sorbent materials in analytical processes. TrAc-Trend Anal Chem 27(1):34–43Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Kaneko K, Ishii C, Arai T, Suematsu H (1993) Defect-associated microporous nature of C60 crystals. J Phys Chem USA 97(26):6764–6766Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Lucena R, Simonet BM, Cardenas S, Valcarcel M (2011) Potential of nanoparticles in sample preparation. J Chromatogr A 1218:620–637Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Scida K, Stege PW, Haby G, Messina GA, Garcia CD (2011) Recent applications of carbon-based nanomaterials in analytical chemistry. Anal Chim Acta 691:6–17Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Alekseeva OV, Bagrovskaya NA, Noskov AV (2016) Sorption of heavy metal ions by fullerene and polystyrene/fullerene film composite. Prot Met Phys Chem Surf 52(3):443–447Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Samonin VV, Nikonova VY, Podvyaznikov ML (2014) Carbon adsorbents on the basis of the hydrolytic lignin modified with fullerenes in producing. Russ J Appl Chem 87(2):190–193Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Gallego M, De Pena YP, Valcarcel M (1994) Fullerenes as sorbent materials for metal preconcentration. Anal Chem 66(22):4074–4078Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Gupta VK, Saleh TA (2013) Sorption of pollutants by porous carbon, carbon nanotubes and fullerene – an overview. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20(5):2828–2843Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Eatemadi A, Daraee H, Karimkhanloo H, Kouhi M, Zarghami N, Akbarzadeh A, Abasi M, Hanifehpour YSW (2014) Carbon nanotubes: properties, synthesis, purification, and medical applications. Nanoscale Res Lett 9(1):393–405Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Haddon RC (2002) Carbon nanotubes. Acc Chem Res 35:977–1113Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Gupta VK, Agarwal S, Saleh TA (2011) Chromium removal by combining the magnetic properties of iron oxide with adsorption properties of carbon nanotubes. Water Res 45(6): 2207–2212Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Wang X, Guo Y, Yang L, Han M, Zhao J, Cheng X (2012) Nanomaterials as sorbents to remove heavy metal ions in wastewater treatment. J Environ Anal Toxicol 2(7):1000154Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Chen GC, Shan XQ, Zhou YQ, Shen XE, Huang HL, Khan SU (2009) Adsorption kinetics, isotherms and thermodynamics of atrazine on surface oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes. J Hazard Mater 169(1):912–918Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Gupta VK, Tyagi I, Agarwal S, Moradi O, Sadegh H, Shahryari-Ghoshekandi R, Makhlouf ASH, Goodarzi M, Garshasbi A (2016) Study on the removal of heavy metal ions from industry waste by carbon nanotubes: effect of the surface modification – a review. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol 46(2):93–118Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Hussain CM, Mitra S (2011) Micropreconcentration units based on carbon nanotubes (CNT). Anal Bioanal Chem 399(1):75–89Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Stafiej A, Pyrzynska K (2007) Adsorption of heavy metal ions with carbon nanotubes. Sep Purif Technol 58(1):49–52Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Gao Z, Bandosz TJ, Zhao Z, Han M, Qiu J (2009) Investigation of factors affecting adsorption of transition metals on oxidized carbon nanotubes. J Hazard Mater 167(1):357–365Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Li Y-H, Ding J, Luan Z, Di Z, Zhu Y, Xu C, Wu D, Wei B (2003) Competitive adsorption of Pb2+, Cu2+ and Cd2+ ions from aqueous solutions by multiwalled carbon nanotubes. Carbon 41(14):2787–2792Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Sadegh H, Ali GAM, Gupta VK, Makhlouf ASH, Shahryari-Ghoshekandi R, Nadagouda MN, Sillanpaa M, Megiel E (2017) The role of nanomaterials as effective adsorbents and their applications in wastewater treatment. J Nanostruct Chem 7(1):1–14Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Lu C, Liu C (2006) Removal of nickel (II) from aqueous solution by carbon nanotubes. J Chem Technol Biotechnol 81:1932–1940Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Santhosh C, Velmurugan V, Jacob G, Jeong SK, Grace AN, Bhatnagar A (2016) Role of nanomaterials in water treatment applications: a review. Chem Eng J 306:1116–1137Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Li Y-H, Wang S, Wei J, Zhang X, Xu C, Luan Z, Wu D, Wei B (2002) Lead adsorption on carbon nanotubes. Chem Phys Lett 357(3):263–266Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Li Y-H, Wang S, Luan Z, Ding J, Xu C, Wu D (2003) Adsorption of cadmium (II) from aqueous solution by surface oxidized carbon nanotubes. Carbon 41(5):1057–1062Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Robati D (2013) Pseudo-second-order kinetic equations for modeling adsorption systems for removal of lead ions using multi-walled carbon nanotube. J Nanostruct Chem 3(1):55Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Wang HJ, Zhou AL, Peng F, Yu H, Chen LF (2007) Adsorption characteristic of acidified carbon nanotubes for heavy metal Pb(II) in aqueous solution. Mater Sci Eng A 466:201–206Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Yang ST, Li JX, Shao DD, Hu J, Wang XK (2009) Adsorption of Ni(II) on oxidized multi-walled carbon nanotubes: effect of contact time, pH, foreign ions and PAA. J Hazard Mater 166:109–116Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Gupta VK, Agarwal S, Saleh TA (2011) Synthesis and characterization of alumina-coated carbon nanotubes and their application for lead removal. J Hazard Mater 185(1):17–23Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Ntim SA, Mitra S (2012) Adsorption of arsenic on multiwall carbon nanotube–zirconia nanohybrid for potential drinking water purification. J Colloid Interface Sci 375(1):154–159Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Tang W-W, Zeng G-M, Gong J-L, Liu Y, Wang X-Y, Liu Y-Y, Liu Z-F, Chen L, Zhang X-R, Tu D-Z (2012) Simultaneous adsorption of atrazine and Cu(II) from wastewater by magnetic multi-walle carbon nanotubes. Chem Eng J 211–212:470–478Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Luo C, Tian Z, Yang B, Zhang L, Yan S (2013) Manganese dioxide/iron oxide/acid oxidized multi-walled carbon nanotube magnetic nanocomposite for enhanced hexavalent chromium removal. Chem Eng J 234:256–265Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Yu X-Y, Luo T, Zhang Y-X, Jia Y, Zhu B-J, Fu X-C, Liu J-H, Huang X-J (2011) Adsorption of lead (II) on O2-plasma-oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes: thermodynamics, kinetics, and desorption. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 3(7):2585–2593Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Zhao X, Jia Q, Song N, Zhou W, Li Y (2010) Adsorption of Pb(II) from an aqueous solution by titanium dioxide/carbon nanotube nanocomposites: kinetics, thermodynamics, and isotherms. J Chem Eng Data 55(10):4428–4433Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Wang S-G, Gong W-X, Liu X-W, Yao Y-W, Gao B-Y, Yue Q-Y (2007) Removal of lead (II) from aqueous solution by adsorption onto manganese oxide-coated carbon nanotubes. Sep Purif Technol 58:17–23Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Burakov AE, Kucherova AE, Burakova IV, Galunin EV, Tkachev AG (2016) A kinetic study on the adsorption of nickel ions (Ni2+) onto CNTs-modified zeolite NaX. Int Multi Sci GeoCo 6(1):3–10Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Romantsova I, Galunin E, Burakov A, Kucherova A, Memetov N (2016) Adsorption of nickel ions on nanomodified materials: an isotherm study. Int Multi Sci GeoCo 6(1):33–40Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Hirata M, Gotou T, Horiuchi S, Fujiwara M, Ohba M (2004) Thin-film particles of graphite oxide: 1. High-yield synthesis and flexibility of the particles. Carbon 42(14):2929–2937Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Novoselov KS, Fal’ko VI, Colombo L, Gellert PR, Schwab MG, Kim K (2012) A roadmap for graphene. Nature 490:192–200Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Geim AK (2009) Graphene: status and prospects. Science 324(5934):1530–1534Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Soldano C, Mahmood A, Dujardin E (2010) Production, properties and potential of graphene. Carbon 48(8):2127–2150Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Park S, Ruoff RS (2009) Chemical methods for the production of graphenes. Nat Nanotechnol 4:217–224Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Huang Z-H, Zheng X, Lv W, Wang M, Yang Q-H, Kang F (2011) Adsorption of lead (II) ions from aqueous solution on low-temperature exfoliated graphene nanosheets. Langmuir 27:7558–7562Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    Zhao G, Li J, Ren X, Chen C, Wang X (2011) Few-layered graphene oxide nanosheets as superior sorbents for heavy metal ion, water pollution. Environ Sci Technol 45(24): 10454–10462Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Cong H-P, Ren X-C, Wang P, Yu S-H (2012) Macroscopic multifunctional graphene-based hydrogels and aerogels by a metal ion induced self-assembly process. ACS Nano 6(3): 2693–2703Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Deng LP, Su YY, Su H, Wang XT, Zhu XB (2007) Sorption and desorption of lead (II) from wastewater by green algae Cladophora fascicularis. J Hazard Mater 143:220–225Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Li F, Wang X, Yuan T, Sun R (2016) A lignosulfonate-modified graphene hydrogel with ultrahigh adsorption capacity for Pb(II) removal. J Mater Chem A 4:11888Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Kucherova AE, Burakova IV, Burakov AE, Krasnyansky MN, Memetov NR (2016) Graphene-based nano-composites for enhanced Pb2+ adsorption. Nano Hybrids Compos 13:323–329Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    Ren XM, Li JX, Tan XL, Wang X (2013) Comparative study of graphene oxide, activated carbon and carbon nanotubes as adsorbents for copper decontamination. Dalton Trans 42:5266–5274Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Zhang M, Gao B, Cao X, Yang L (2013) Synthesis of a multifunctional graphene-carbon nanotube aerogel and its strong adsorption of lead from aqueous solution. RSC Adv 3:21099–21105Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    Li J, Zhang S, Chen C, Zhao G, Yang X, Li J, Wang X (2012) Removal of Cu(II) and fulvic acid by graphene oxide nanosheets decorated with Fe3O4 nanoparticles. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 4:4991–5000Google Scholar
  90. 90.
    Kumar S, Nair RR, Pillai PB, Gupta SN, Iyengar MAR, Sood AK (2014) Graphene oxide-MnFe2O4 magnetic nanohybrids for efficient removal of lead and arsenic from water. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 6:17426–17436Google Scholar
  91. 91.
    Zhang Y, Yan L, Xu W, Guo X, Cui L, Gao L, Wei Q, Du B (2014) Adsorption of Pb(II) and hg(II) from aqueous solution using magnetic CoFe2O4-reduced graphene oxide. J Mol Liq 191:177–182Google Scholar
  92. 92.
    Hur J, Shin J, Yoo J, Seo Y-S (2015) Competitive adsorption of metals onto magnetic graphene oxide: comparison with other carbonaceous adsorbents. Sci World J 1:836287Google Scholar
  93. 93.
    Zhao G, Ren X, Gao X, Tan X, Li J, Chen C, Huang Y, Wang X (2011) Removal of Pb(II) ions from aqueous solutions on few-layered graphene oxide nanosheets. Dalton Trans 40: 10945–10952Google Scholar
  94. 94.
    Lujaniene G, Semcuk S, Kulakauskaite I, Mazeika K, Valiulis D, Juskenas R, Tautkus S (2016) Sorption of radionuclides and metals to graphene oxide and magnetic graphene oxide. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 307(3):2267–2275Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander E. Burakov
    • 1
    Email author
  • Irina V. Burakova
    • 1
  • Evgeny V. Galunin
    • 1
  • Anastasia E. Kucherova
    • 1
  1. 1.Technology and Methods of Nanoproducts ManufacturingTambov State Technical UniversityTambovRussia

Personalised recommendations