An expanding global population not only increases the amounts of municipal solid waste and wastewater generated but also raises demand for a wide range of raw materials used to manufacture goods. Extraction of these raw materials and many subsequent manufacturing processes contribute significantly to the presence of a variety of metals in wastewaters and leachates. Metal-rich wastewaters not only result in short- and long-term environmental and associated health concerns but also have potential economic value if the metals can be recovered. In this chapter, we review the effectiveness of biochar, microbial and lignin biosorbents as well as constructed wetland systems to remove soluble metals from wastewaters. The wide variation in adsorptive capacity of these biosorbent materials reflects the heterogeneous nature of the source materials used for their production. Physical and chemical modifications of biochars and lignins generally improve their adsorptive capacities which remain highly variable. Constructed wetlands are attractive because of their passive nature with low-energy and low-maintenance requirements, although their long-term capacity to treat metal-rich wastewaters is as yet largely undetermined. Future perspectives focus on increasing the selectivity of adsorbents to remove complex matrices of metals from wastewaters and on increasing their adsorption/desorption capacities.
Part of the book: Water and Wastewater Treatment