Research Highlight

Nano mop for toxic metals

Biplab Das

doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.280 Published online 15 September 2008

Researchers have devised a special type of carbon-based nanomaterial that might help remove toxic heavy metals from wastewater. Known as nanoporous carbon (NPC), the nanomaterial showed better efficacy than nanocarcarbon (NC) and commercially available activated carbon in removing heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, nickel and zinc1. This novel nanomaterial will help overcome heavy metal toxicity in wastewater.

Available materials such as activated carbon, fly ash, crab shell, coconut shell, zeolite and rice husk show poor efficiency in mopping up heavy metals. In recent years, carbon-based nanomaterials have shown promise in adsorbing heavy metals.

The researchers made NPC using chemical vapour deposition method and compared its efficacy with NC and commercially available activated carbon. The NPC demonstrates a highly porous morphology. This unique structure of NPC is distinctly different from AC and NC. A unique honeycomb-like structure with a uniform porosity and interconnected pores was seen throughout the NPC sample.

NPC showed high sorption capacity for all the studied heavy metals — lead, cadmium, nickel and zinc. Sorption of heavy metals on NPC may occur due to ion exchange. NPC carbon has a good potential for use in water treatment applications, the researchers say.

The authors of this work are from: Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai and United Nanotechnologies Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai, India.


  1. Ruparelia, P. J. et al. Potential of carbon nanomaterials for removal of heavy metals from water. Desalination 232, 145-156 (2008) | Article |