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Heavy metal contamination in drinking water is a growing concern due to its severe health effects on humans. Among the many metals, lead (Pb), which is a toxic and harmful element, has the most widespread global distribution. Pb pollution is a major problem of water pollution in developing countries and nations. The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets, and plumbing fixtures. Adsorption is the most efficient method for metal removal, and activated carbon has been used widely in many applications as an effective adsorbent, but its high production costs have created the necessity for a low-cost alternative adsorbent. Biochar can be a cost-effective substitute for activated carbon in lead adsorption because of its porous structure, irregular surface, high surface-to-volume ratio, and presence of oxygenated functional groups. Extensive research has explored the remarkable potential of biochar in adsorbing Pb from water and wastewater through batch and column studies. Despite its efficacy in Pb removal, several challenges hinder the real application of biochar as an adsorbent. These challenges include variability in the adsorption capacity due to the diverse range of biomass feedstocks, production processes, pH dependence, potential desorption, or a leaching of Pb from the biochar back into the solution; the regeneration and reutilization of spent biochar; and a lack of studies on scalability issues for its application as an adsorbent. This manuscript aims to review the last ten years of research, highlighting the opportunities and engineering challenges associated with using biochar for Pb removal from water. Biochar production and activation methods, kinetics, adsorption isotherms, mechanisms, regeneration, and adsorption capacities with process conditions are discussed. The objective is to provide a comprehensive resource that can guide future researchers and practitioners in addressing engineering challenges.


© 2024 by the authors.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0 International) License.


0000-0003-3173-6101 (Kumar)

Original Publication Citation

Kumkum, P., & Kumar, S. (2024). A review on biochar as an adsorbent for Pb(II) removal from water. Biomass, 4(2), 243-272.