Designer carbon nanotubes for contaminant removal in water and wastewater: A critical review

Binoy SARKAR, Sanchita MANDAL, Yiu Fai TSANG, Pawan KUMAR, Ki-Hyun KIM, Yong-Sik OK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

236 Citations (Scopus)


The search for effective materials for environmental cleanup is a scientific and technological issue of paramount importance. Among various materials, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) possess unique physicochemical, electrical, and mechanical properties that make them suitable for potential applications as environmental adsorbents, sensors, membranes, and catalysts. Depending on the intended application and the chemical nature of the target contaminants, CNTs can be designed through specific functionalization or modification processes. Designer CNTs can remarkably enhance contaminant removal efficiency and facilitate nanomaterial recovery and regeneration. An increasing number of CNT-based materials have been used to treat diverse organic, inorganic, and biological contaminants. These success stories demonstrate their strong potential in practical applications, including wastewater purification and desalination. However, CNT-based technologies have not been broadly accepted for commercial use due to their prohibitive cost and the complex interactions of CNTs with other abiotic and biotic environmental components. This paper presents a critical review of the existing literature on the interaction of various contaminants with CNTs in water and soil environments. The preparation methods of various designer CNTs (surface functionalized and/or modified) and the functional relationships between their physicochemical characteristics and environmental uses are discussed. This review will also help to identify the research gaps that must be addressed for enhancing the commercial acceptance of CNTs in the environmental remediation industry. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-581
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online dateSept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


Sarkar, B., Mandal, S., Tsang, Y. F., Kumar, P., Kim, K.-H., & Ok, Y. S. (2018). Designer carbon nanotubes for contaminant removal in water and wastewater: A critical review. Science of The Total Environment, 612, 561-581. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.132


  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Surface functionalization/modification
  • Contaminants
  • Environmental remediation
  • Soil remediation
  • Desalination


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