A review on three-dimensional cellulose-based aerogels for the removal of heavy metals from water

Hina Iqbal Syeda*, Pow Seng Yap

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Contamination of the aquatic ecosystem by heavy metals is a growing concern that has yet to be addressed with an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution. Heavy metals occur naturally in the earth's crust and also result from anthropogenic activities. Due to the rapid increase in industrialization, there is an increase in consumer demands across various industries such as metal processing, mining sector, agricultural activities, etc. and this has led to an increase in heavy metal concentrations in the aqueous environment. Cellulose-based aerogels are a novel third-generation of aerogels that have recently attracted a lot of attention due to their high adsorption efficiency, eco-friendly prospects and cost effectiveness. In this review, recent literature on cellulose-based aerogel adsorbents used for the removal of heavy metals from aqueous solution has been compiled. The preparation of cellulose-based aerogels, adsorption mechanisms, effects of experimental factors such as pH, temperature, contact time, initial metal concentration and adsorbent dose have been discussed. In addition, cost analysis of cellulose-based adsorbents and some challenges in this research field along with recommendations of improvements have been presented. It can be concluded that functionalizing of cellulose-based aerogels with amine groups, thiol groups, other compounds such as nanobentonite and chitosan results in very high adsorption capacities. The adsorption studies revealed that pseudo-second-order kinetic model was the most commonly encountered adsorption kinetic model, and the most commonly encountered adsorption isotherm model was the Langmuir isotherm model. The main adsorption mechanisms were electrostatic interaction, complexation and ion exchange.

Original languageEnglish
Article number150606
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2022


  • Adsorption
  • Aerogels
  • Cellulose
  • Heavy metals
  • Wastewater treatment

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