New trends in removing heavy metals from industrial wastewater

New trends in removing heavy metals from industrial wastewater

Author: M.A. Barakat, King Abdulaziz University


Innovative processes for treating industrial wastewater containing heavy metals often involve technologies for reduction of toxicity in order to meet technology-based treatment standards. This article reviews the recent developments and technical applicability of various treatments for the removal of heavy metals from industrial wastewater. A particular focus is given to innovative physico-chemical removal processes such as; adsorption on new adsorbents, membrane filtration, electrodialysis, and photocatalysis. Their advantages and limitations in application are evaluated. The main operating conditions such as pH and treatment performance are presented. Published studies of 94 cited references (1999–2008) are reviewed.

It is evident from survey that new adsorbents and membrane filtration are the most frequently studied and widely applied for the treatment of metal-contaminated wastewater. However, in the near future, the most promising methods to treat such complex systems will be the photocatalytic ones which consume cheap photons from the UV-near visible region. They induce both degradation of organic pollutants and recovery of metals in one-pot systems. On the other hand, from the conventional processes, lime precipitation has been found as one of the most effective means to treat inorganic effluent with a metal concentration of >1000 mg/L. It is important to note that the overall treatment cost of metal-contaminated water varies, depending on the process employed and the local conditions. In general, the technical applicability, plant simplicity and cost-effectiveness are the key factors in selecting the most suitable treatment for inorganic effluent.