A review on modification methods to cellulose-based adsorbents to improve adsorption capacity

Sanna Hokkanen, Amit Bhatnagar, Mika Sillanpää

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

850 Citations (Scopus)


In recent decades, increased domestic, agricultural and industrial activities worldwide have led to the release of various pollutants, such as toxic heavy metals, inorganic anions, organics, micropollutants and nutrients into the aquatic environment. The removal of these wide varieties of pollutants for better quality of water for various activities is an emerging issue and a robust and eco-friendly treatment technology is needed for the purpose. It is well known that cellulosic materials can be obtained from various natural sources and can be employed as cheap adsorbents. Their adsorption capacities for heavy metal ions and other aquatic pollutants can be significantly affected upon chemical treatment. In general, chemically modified cellulose exhibits higher adsorption capacities for various aquatic pollutants than their unmodified forms. Numerous chemicals have been used for cellulose modifications which include mineral and organic acids, bases, oxidizing agent, organic compounds, etc. This paper reviews the current state of research on the use of cellulose, a naturally occurring material, its modified forms and their efficacy as adsorbents for the removal of various pollutants from waste streams. In this review, an extensive list of various cellulose-based adsorbents from literature has been compiled and their adsorption capacities under various conditions for the removal of various pollutants, as available in the literature, are presented along with highlighting and discussing the key advancement on the preparation of cellulose-based adsorbents. It is evident from the literature survey presented herein that modified cellulose-based adsorbents exhibit good potential for the removal of various aquatic pollutants. However, still there is a need to find out the practical utility of these adsorbents on a commercial scale, leading to the improvement of pollution control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-173
Number of pages18
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cellulose
  • Heavy metals
  • Microcellulose
  • Nanocellulose
  • Nitrate
  • Phosphate
  • Surface modification
  • Water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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