Carbon-based nanomaterials with multipurpose attributes for water treatment: Greening the 21st-century nanostructure materials deployment


  • Nazim Hussain Center for Applied Molecular Biology (CAMB), University of the Punjab Lahore, Pakistan.
  • Muhammad Bilal School of Life Science and Food Engineering, Huaiyin Institute of Technology, Huaian 223003, China.
  • Hafiz M. N. Iqbal Tecnologico de Monterrey, School of Engineering and Sciences, Monterrey, 64849, Mexico.



Nanomaterials, Nanomembrane, Environmental pollutants, Adsorption, Degradation, Water treatment


Nanotechnology is a top priority research area in a plethora of technological and scientific fields due to its economic impact and versatile capability. Among various applications, water treatment is considered among the most prospective utilization of nanotechnology, where a large number of nanostructured materials can remediate water using several different mechanistic ways. For achieving this, nanomaterials can be combined and modified with active moieties to develop different nanocomposites with structural diversity and unique physicochemical attributes. In addition, they have also been designed and integrated into membranes for improving water treatment performance. In this review, we provide an up-to-date overview of various nanostructured materials as nanoadsorbents, such as carbon-based nanomaterials, nanocomposites, and nanomembranes for remediating pesticide-based pollutants from aqueous systems using CNTs. Notably, nanomaterials are capable of efficiently removing environmental pollutants given their substantial surface area, high absorptive ability, and excellent environmental selectivity and compatibility.


Download data is not yet available.


Aguilar-Pérez, K. M., Avilés-Castrillo, J. I., Ruiz-Pulido, G., Medina, D. I., Parra-Saldivar, R., & Iqbal, H. M. (2021). Nanoadsorbents in focus for the remediation of environmentally-related contaminants with rising toxicity concerns. Science of The Total Environment, 779, 146465.

Aguilar-Pérez, K. M., Heya, M. S., Parra-Saldívar, R., & Iqbal, H. M. (2020). Nano-biomaterials in-focus as sensing/detection cues for environmental pollutants. Case Studies in Chemical and Environmental Engineering, 2, 100055.

Ahmad, A., Tan, L., & Shukor, S.A. (2008). Dimethoate and atrazine retention from aqueous solution by nanofiltration membranes. Journal of hazardous materials, 151, 71-77.

Ahmaruzzaman, M. (2019). Nano-materials: novel and promising adsorbents for water treatment. Asian Journal of Water, Environment and Pollution, 16, 43-53.

Ali, I. (2012). New generation adsorbents for water treatment. Chemical Reviews, 112, 5073-5091.

Ali, I., & Gupta, V. (2006). Advances in water treatment by adsorption technology. Nature protocols, 1, 2661-2667.

Armaghan, M., & Amini, M. (2012). Adsorption of diazinon and fenitrothion on nanocrystalline alumina from non-polar solvent. Colloid Journal, 74, 427-433.

Bai, L., Li, Z., Zhang, Y., Wang, T., Lu, R., Zhou, W., Gao, H., & Zhang, S. (2015). Synthesis of water-dispersible graphene-modified magnetic polypyrrole nanocomposite and its ability to efficiently adsorb methylene blue from aqueous solution. Chemical Engineering Journal, 279, 757-766.

Bhaumik, M., Leswifi, T.Y., Maity, A., Srinivasu, V.V., & Onyango, M.S. (2011a). Removal of fluoride from aqueous solution by polypyrrole/Fe3O4 magnetic nanocomposite. Journal of hazardous materials, 186, 150-159.

Bhaumik, M., Maity, A., Srinivasu, V.V., & Onyango, M.S. (2011b). Enhanced removal of Cr(VI) from aqueous solution using polypyrrole/Fe3O4 magnetic nanocomposite. Journal of hazardous materials, 190, 381-390.

Bilal, M., Barceló, D., & Iqbal, H. M. (2021). Occurrence, environmental fate, ecological issues, and redefining of endocrine disruptive estrogens in water resources. Science of The Total Environment, 800, 149635.

Bilal, M., Nguyen, T. A., & Iqbal, H. M. (2020). Multifunctional carbon nanotubes and their derived nano-constructs for enzyme immobilization–a paradigm shift in biocatalyst design. Coordination Chemistry Reviews, 422, 213475.

Björk, J., Hanke, F., Palma, C.-A., Samori, P., Cecchini, M., & Persson, M. (2010). Adsorption of aromatic and anti-aromatic systems on graphene through π− π stacking. The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 1, 3407-3412.

Bonné, P., Beerendonk, E., Van der Hoek, J., & Hofman, J. (2000). Retention of herbicides and pesticides in relation to aging of RO membranes. Desalination, 132, 189-193.

Chen, H., Yang, S., Yu, K., Ju, Y., & Sun, C. (2011). Effective photocatalytic degradation of atrazine over titania-coated carbon nanotubes (CNTs) coupled with microwave energy. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 115, 3034-3041.

De Martino, A., Iorio, M., Xing, B., & Capasso, R. (2012). Removal of 4-chloro-2-methylphenoxyacetic acid from water by sorption on carbon nanotubes and metal oxide nanoparticles. RSC advances, 2, 5693-5700.

Dehaghi, S.M., Rahmanifar, B., Moradi, A.M., & Azar, P.A. (2014). Removal of permethrin pesticide from water by chitosan–zinc oxide nanoparticles composite as an adsorbent. Journal of Saudi Chemical Society, 18, 348-355.

Dehghani, M.H., Kamalian, S., Shayeghi, M., Yousefi, M., Heidarinejad, Z., Agarwal, S., & Gupta, V.K. (2019). High-performance removal of diazinon pesticide from water using multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Microchemical Journal, 145, 486-491.

Dehghani, M.H., Niasar, Z.S., Mehrnia, M.R., Shayeghi, M., Al-Ghouti, M.A., Heibati, B., McKay, G., & Yetilmezsoy, K. (2017). Optimizing the removal of organophosphorus pesticide malathion from water using multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Chemical Engineering Journal, 310, 22-32.

Deng, J., Shao, Y., Gao, N., Deng, Y., Tan, C., Zhou, S., & Hu, X. (2012). Multiwalled carbon nanotubes as adsorbents for removal of herbicide diuron from aqueous solution. Chemical Engineering Journal, 193, 339-347.

El-Temsah, Y.S., & Joner, E.J. (2012). Ecotoxicological effects on earthworms of fresh and aged nano-sized zero-valent iron (nZVI) in soil. Chemosphere, 89, 76-82.

Gan, J., Li, X., Rizwan, K., Adeel, M., Bilal, M., Rasheed, T., & Iqbal, H. M. (2022). Covalent organic frameworks-based smart materials for mitigation of pharmaceutical pollutants from aqueous solution. Chemosphere, 286, 131710.

Gomez, S., Marchena, C.L., Renzini, M.S., Pizzio, L., & Pierella, L. (2015). In situ generated TiO2 over zeolitic supports as reusable photocatalysts for the degradation of dichlorvos. Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 162, 167-173.

González-González, R. B., Sharma, A., Parra-Saldívar, R., Ramirez-Mendoza, R. A., Bilal, M., & Iqbal, H. M. (2021). Decontamination of emerging pharmaceutical pollutants using carbon-dots as robust materials. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 423, 127145.

Henych, J., Štengl, V., Slušná, M., Grygar, T.M., Janoš, P., Kuráň, P., & Štastný, M. (2015). Degradation of organophosphorus pesticide parathion methyl on nanostructured titania-iron mixed oxides. Applied Surface Science, 344, 9-16.

Hou, X., Lei, S., Qiu, S., Guo, L., Yi, S., & Liu, W. (2014). A multi-residue method for the determination of pesticides in tea using multi-walled carbon nanotubes as a dispersive solid phase extraction absorbent. Food Chemistry, 153, 121-129.

Hristovski, K., Baumgardner, A., & Westerhoff, P. (2007). Selecting metal oxide nanomaterials for arsenic removal in fixed bed columns: from nanopowders to aggregated nanoparticle media. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 147, 265-274.

Hussain, C.M., Kecili, R., & Hussain, C.G. (2021). Sample Preparation with Nanomaterials: Next Generation Techniques and Applications. John Wiley & Sons.

Joo, S.H., & Zhao, D. (2008). Destruction of lindane and atrazine using stabilized iron nanoparticles under aerobic and anaerobic conditions: effects of catalyst and stabilizer. Chemosphere, 70, 418-425.

Karimi, H., Rahimpour, A., & Shirzad Kebria, M.R. (2016). Pesticides removal from water using modified piperazine-based nanofiltration (NF) membranes. Desalination and Water Treatment, 57, 24844-24854.

Kyriakopoulos, G., Xiarchos, I., & Doulia, D. (2006). Treatment of contaminated water with pesticides via adsorption. International journal of environmental technology and management, 6, 515-524.

Kyzas, G.Z., & Bikiaris, D.N. (2015). Recent Modifications of Chitosan for Adsorption Applications: A Critical and Systematic Review. Marine Drugs, 13, 312-337.

Liu, G., Li, L., Huang, X., Zheng, S., Xu, X., Liu, Z., Zhang, Y., Wang, J., Lin, H., & Xu, D. (2018). Adsorption and removal of organophosphorus pesticides from environmental water and soil samples by using magnetic multi-walled carbon nanotubes@ organic framework ZIF-8. Journal of Materials Science, 53, 10772-10783.

Liu, T., Li, B., Hao, Y., & Yao, Z. (2014). MoO3-nanowire membrane and Bi2Mo3O12/MoO3 nano-heterostructural photocatalyst for wastewater treatment. Chemical Engineering Journal, 244, 382-390.

Liu, X., Zhang, H., Ma, Y., Wu, X., Meng, L., Guo, Y., Yu, G., & Liu, Y. (2013). Graphene-coated silica as a highly efficient sorbent for residual organophosphorus pesticides in water. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 1, 1875-1884.

Lopes, R.P., de Urzedo, A.P., Nascentes, C.C., & Augusti, R. (2008). Degradation of the insecticides thiamethoxam and imidacloprid by zero‐valent metals exposed to ultrasonic irradiation in water medium: electrospray ionization mass spectrometry monitoring. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 22, 3472-3480.

Mahdavi, V., Taghadosi, F., Dashtestani, F., Bahadorikhalili, S., Farimani, M.M., Ma'mani, L., & Khaneghah, A.M. (2021). Aminoguanidine modified magnetic graphene oxide as a robust nanoadsorbent for efficient removal and extraction of chlorpyrifos residue from water. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 9, 106117.

Mahpishanian, S., Sereshti, H., & Baghdadi, M. (2015). Superparamagnetic core–shells anchored onto graphene oxide grafted with phenylethyl amine as a nano-adsorbent for extraction and enrichment of organophosphorus pesticides from fruit, vegetable and water samples. Journal of Chromatography A, 1406, 48-58.

Mitchell, M.B., Sheinker, V.N., Cox, W.W., Gatimu, E.N., & Tesfamichael, A.B. (2004). The room temperature decomposition mechanism of dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP) on alumina-supported cerium oxide− participation of nano-sized cerium oxide domains. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 108, 1634-1645.

Mubarak, N., Sahu, J., Abdullah, E., & Jayakumar, N. (2014). Removal of heavy metals from wastewater using carbon nanotubes. Separation & Purification Reviews, 43, 311-338.

Pacheco, S., Medina, M., Valencia, F., & Tapia, J. (2006). Removal of inorganic mercury from polluted water using structured nanoparticles. Journal of Environmental Engineering, 132, 342-349.

Pan, B., Pan, B., Zhang, W., Lv, L., Zhang, Q., & Zheng, S. (2009). Development of polymeric and polymer-based hybrid adsorbents for pollutants removal from waters. Chemical Engineering Journal, 151, 19-29.

Pandey, S. (2017). A comprehensive review on recent developments in bentonite-based materials used as adsorbents for wastewater treatment. Journal of Molecular Liquids, 241, 1091-1113.

Pedrosa, M., Drazic, G., Tavares, P.B., Figueiredo, J.L., & Silva, A.M. (2019). Metal-free graphene-based catalytic membrane for degradation of organic contaminants by persulfate activation. Chemical Engineering Journal, 369, 223-232.

Qin, H., Guo, W., Huang, X., Gao, P., & Xiao, H. (2020). Preparation of yttria-stabilized ZrO2 nanofiltration membrane by reverse micelles-mediated sol-gel process and its application in pesticide wastewater treatment. J. Eur. Ceram. Soc. 40, 145-154.

Qu, X., Alvarez, P.J., & Li, Q. (2013). Applications of nanotechnology in water and wastewater treatment. Water research, 47, 3931-3946.

Radic, S., Geitner, N.K., Podila, R., Käkinen, A., Chen, P., Ke, P.C., & Ding, F. (2013). Competitive binding of natural amphiphiles with graphene derivatives. Scientific reports, 3, 1-8.

Rahmanifar, B., & Dehaghi, S.M. (2014). Removal of organochlorine pesticides by chitosan loaded with silver oxide nanoparticles from water. Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy, 16, 1781-1786.

Rakhshan, N., & Pakizeh, M. (2015). Removal of triazines from water using a novel OA modified SiO2/PA/PSf nanocomposite membrane. Separation and purification technology, 147, 245-256.

Rani, M., & Shanker, U. (2018). Degradation of traditional and new emerging pesticides in water by nanomaterials: recent trends and future recommendations. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 15, 1347-1380.

Rao, G.P., Lu, C., & Su, F. (2007). Sorption of divalent metal ions from aqueous solution by carbon nanotubes: a review. Separation and purification technology, 58, 224-231.

Rasheed, T., Ahmad, N., Ali, J., Hassan, A. A., Sher, F., Rizwan, K., ... & Bilal, M. (2021). Nano and micro architectured cues as smart materials to mitigate recalcitrant pharmaceutical pollutants from wastewater. Chemosphere, 274, 129785.

Reyes-Calderón, A., Pérez-Uribe, S., Ramos-Delgado, A. G., Ramalingam, S., Oza, G., Parra-Saldívar, R., ... & Sharma, A. (2022). Analytical and regulatory considerations to mitigate highly hazardous toxins from environmental matrices. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 423, 127031.

Rivera-Utrilla, J., Sánchez-Polo, M., Ferro-García, M.Á., Prados-Joya, G., & Ocampo-Pérez, R. (2013). Pharmaceuticals as emerging contaminants and their removal from water. A review. Chemosphere, 93, 1268-1287.

Sabela, M., Balme, S., Bechelany, M., Janot, J.M., & Bisetty, K. (2017). A review of gold and silver nanoparticle‐based colorimetric sensing assays. Advanced Engineering Materials, 19, 1700270.

Saleh, I.A., Zouari, N., & Al-Ghouti, M.A. (2020). Removal of pesticides from water and wastewater: Chemical, physical and biological treatment approaches. Environmental Technology & Innovation, 101026.

Santhosh, C., Velmurugan, V., Jacob, G., Jeong, S.K., Grace, A.N., & Bhatnagar, A. (2016). Role of nanomaterials in water treatment applications: a review. Chemical Engineering Journal, 306, 1116-1137.

Santos, T.R., Andrade, M.B., Silva, M.F., Bergamasco, R., & Hamoudi, S. (2019). Development of α-and γ-Fe2O3 decorated graphene oxides for glyphosate removal from water. Environmental technology, 40, 1118-1137.

Sen Gupta, S., Chakraborty, I., Maliyekkal, S.M., Adit Mark, T., Pandey, D.K., Das, S.K., & Pradeep, T. (2015). Simultaneous dehalogenation and removal of persistent halocarbon pesticides from water using graphene nanocomposites: a case study of lindane. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 3, 1155-1163.

Shahryari-ghoshekandi, R., & Sadegh, H. (2014). Kinetic study of the adsorption of synthetic dyes on graphene surfaces. Jordan J. Chem 9, 267-278.

Shen, H.-Y., Zhu, Y., Wen, X.-E., & Zhuang, Y.-M. (2007). Preparation of Fe3O4-C18 nano-magnetic composite materials and their cleanup properties for organophosphorous pesticides. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry, 387, 2227-2237.

Singh, N., Nagpal, G., & Agrawal, S. (2018). Water purification by using adsorbents: a review. Environmental technology & innovation, 11, 187-240.

Singh, R., Kumar, N., Mehra, R., Kumar, H., & Singh, V.P. (2020). Progress and challenges in the detection of residual pesticides using nanotechnology based colorimetric techniques. Trends in Environmental Analytical Chemistry, 26, e00086.

Smith, S.C., & Rodrigues, D.F. (2015). Carbon-based nanomaterials for removal of chemical and biological contaminants from water: A review of mechanisms and applications. Carbon, 91, 122-143.

Song, J., Li, X.-M., Figoli, A., Huang, H., Pan, C., He, T., & Jiang, B. (2013). Composite hollow fiber nanofiltration membranes for recovery of glyphosate from saline wastewater. Water Res. 47, 2065-2074.

Springer, V.H., & Lista, A.G. (2010). A simple and fast method for chlorsulfuron and metsulfuron methyl determination in water samples using multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and capillary electrophoresis. Talanta, 83, 126-129.

Stafiej, A., & Pyrzynska, K. (2007). Adsorption of heavy metal ions with carbon nanotubes. Separation and purification technology, 58, 49-52.

Stafiej, A., & Pyrzynska, K. (2008). Solid phase extraction of metal ions using carbon nanotubes. Microchemical Journal, 89, 29-33.

Šťastný, M., Štengl, V., Henych, J., Tolasz, J., Vomáčka, P., & Ederer, J. (2016). Mesoporous manganese oxide for the degradation of organophosphates pesticides. Journal of Materials Science, 51, 2634-2642.

Taghizade Firozjaee, T., Mehrdadi, N., Baghdadi, M., & Nabi Bidhendi, G. (2018). Application of nanotechnology in pesticides removal from aqueous solutions-a review. International Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 14, 43-56.

Tan, K.B., Vakili, M., Horri, B.A., Poh, P.E., Abdullah, A.Z., & Salamatinia, B. (2015). Adsorption of dyes by nanomaterials: recent developments and adsorption mechanisms. Separation and Purification Technology, 150, 229-242.

Tepuš, B., Simonič, M., & Petrinić, I. (2009). Comparison between nitrate and pesticide removal from ground water using adsorbents and NF and RO membranes. Journal of hazardous materials, 170, 1210-1217.

Tomašević, A., Kiss, E., Petrović, S., & Mijin, D. (2010). Study on the photocatalytic degradation of insecticide methomyl in water. Desalination, 262, 228-234.

Ullah, N., Mansha, M., Khan, I., & Qurashi, A. (2018). Nanomaterial-based optical chemical sensors for the detection of heavy metals in water: Recent advances and challenges. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 100, 155-166.

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, 154.

Wang, X., Lu, J., & Xing, B. (2008). Sorption of organic contaminants by carbon nanotubes: influence of adsorbed organic matter. Environmental science & technology, 42, 3207-3212.

Yan, X., Shi, B., Lu, J., Feng, C., Wang, D., & Tang, H. (2008). Adsorption and desorption of atrazine on carbon nanotubes. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 321, 30-38.

Yang, K., & Xing, B. (2007). Desorption of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from carbon nanomaterials in water. Environmental Pollution, 145, 529-537.

Yang, K., Zhu, L., & Xing, B. (2006). Adsorption of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by carbon nanomaterials. Environmental science & technology, 40, 1855-1861.

Yu, B., Zeng, J., Gong, L., Yang, X., Zhang, L., & Chen, X. (2008). Photocatalytic degradation investigation of dicofol. Chinese Science Bulletin, 53, 27-32.

Zeb, S., Ali, N., Ali, Z., Bilal, M., Adalat, B., Hussain, S., ... & Iqbal, H. M. (2020). Silica-based nanomaterials as designer adsorbents to mitigate emerging organic contaminants from water matrices. Journal of Water Process Engineering, 38, 101675.

Zhang, S., Bilal, M., Adeel, M., Barceló, D., & Iqbal, H. M. (2021). MXene-based designer nanomaterials and their exploitation to mitigate hazardous pollutants from environmental matrices. Chemosphere, 283, 131293.

Zhang, S., Yang, H., Huang, H., Gao, H., Wang, X., Cao, R., Li, J., Xu, X., & Wang, X. (2017). Unexpected ultrafast and high adsorption capacity of oxygen vacancy-rich WOx/C nanowire networks for aqueous Pb2+ and methylene blue removal. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 5, 15913-15922.

Zhang, Y., Van der Bruggen, B., Chen, G., Braeken, L., & Vandecasteele, C. (2004). Removal of pesticides by nanofiltration: effect of the water matrix. Sep. Purif. Technol. 38, 163-172.

Zhang, Y., Wei, S., Hu, Y., & Sun, S. (2018). Membrane technology in wastewater treatment enhanced by functional nanomaterials. Journal of Cleaner Production, 197, 339-348.

Zhao, G., Li, J., Ren, X., Chen, C., & Wang, X. (2011). Few-layered graphene oxide nanosheets as superior sorbents for heavy metal ion pollution management. Environmental science & technology, 45, 10454-10462.

Zhao, J., Wang, Z., White, J.C., & Xing, B. (2014). Graphene in the aquatic environment: adsorption, dispersion, toxicity and transformation. Environmental science & technology, 48, 9995-10009.

Zhao, Y., Qamar, S. A., Qamar, M., Bilal, M., & Iqbal, H. M. (2021). Sustainable remediation of hazardous environmental pollutants using biochar-based nanohybrid materials. Journal of Environmental Management, 300, 113762.




How to Cite

Hussain, N. ., Bilal, M. ., & M. N. Iqbal, H. . (2021). Carbon-based nanomaterials with multipurpose attributes for water treatment: Greening the 21st-century nanostructure materials deployment. Biomaterials and Polymers Horizon, 1(1), 48–58.