Application of carbon nanotube technology for removal of contaminants in drinking water: A review

Venkata K.K. Upadhyayula, Shuguang Deng, Martha C. Mitchell, Geoffrey B. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

631 Scopus citations


Carbon nanotube (CNT) adsorption technology has the potential to support point of use (POU) based treatment approach for removal of bacterial pathogens, natural organic matter (NOM), and cyanobacterial toxins from water systems. Unlike many microporous adsorbents, CNTs possess fibrous shape with high aspect ratio, large accessible external surface area, and well developed mesopores, all contribute to the superior removal capacities of these macromolecular biomolecules and microorganisms. This article provides a comprehensive review on application of CNTs as adsorbent media to concentrate and remove pathogens, NOM, and cyanobacterial (microcystin derivatives) toxins from water systems. The paper also surveys on consideration of CNT based adsorption filters for removal of these contaminants from cost, operational and safety standpoint. Based on the studied literature it appears that POU based CNT technology looks promising, that can possibly avoid difficulties of treating biological contaminants in conventional water treatment plants, and thereby remove the burden of maintaining the biostability of treated water in the distribution systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 15 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorption
  • Biological contaminants
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Drinking water
  • Point of use treatment
  • Water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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