Remediation of heavy metal polluted waters using activated carbon from lignocellulosic biomass: An update of recent trends

Anh Tuan Hoang, Sunil Kumar, Eric Lichtfouse, Chin Kui Cheng, Rajender S. Varma, N. Senthilkumar, Phuoc Quy Phong Nguyen, Xuan Phuong Nguyen

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63 Scopus citations


The use of a cheap and effective adsorption approach based on biomass-activated carbon (AC) to remediate heavy metal contamination is clearly desirable for developing countries that are economically disadvantaged yet have abundant biomass. Therefore, this review provides an update of recent works utilizing biomass waste-AC to adsorb commonly-encountered adsorbates like Cr, Pb, Cu, Cd, Hg, and As. Various biomass wastes were employed in synthesizing AC via two-steps processing; oxygen-free carbonization followed by activation. In recent works related to the activation step, the microwave technique is growing in popularity compared to the more conventional physical/chemical activation method because the microwave technique can ensure a more uniform energy distribution in the solid adsorbent, resulting in enhanced surface area. Nonetheless, chemical activation is still generally preferred for its ease of operation, lower cost, and shorter preparation time. Several mechanisms related to heavy metal adsorption on biomass wastes-AC were also discussed in detail, such as (i) - physical adsorption/deposition of metals, (ii) - ion-exchange between protonated oxygen-containing functional groups (–OH, –COOH) and divalent metal cations (M2+), (iii) - electrostatic interaction between oppositely-charged ions, (iv) - surface complexation between functional groups (−OH, O2−, −CO–NH-, and –COOH) and heavy metal ions/complexes, and (v) - precipitation/co-precipitation technique. Additionally, key parameters affecting the adsorption performance were scrutinized. In general, this review offers a comprehensive insight into the production of AC from lignocellulosic biomass and its application in treating heavy metals-polluted water, showing that biomass-originated AC could bring great benefits to the environment, economy, and sustainability.

Original languageBritish English
Article number134825
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Activated carbon
  • Adsorption behavior
  • Heavy metal
  • Lignocellulosic biomass
  • Wastewater treatment


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