Recovery, regeneration and sustainable management of spent adsorbents from wastewater treatment streams: A review

Arun V Baskar, Nanthi Bolan, Son A Hoang, Prasanthi Sooriyakumar, Manish Kumar, Lal Singh, Tahereh Jasemizad, Lokesh P Padhye, Gurwinder Singh, Ajayan Vinu, Binoy Sarkar, M B Kirkham, Jörg Rinklebe, Shengsen Wang, Hailong Wang, Rajasekhar Balasubramanian, Kadambot H M Siddique

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

213 Citations (Scopus)


Adsorption is the most widely adopted, effective, and reliable treatment process for the removal of inorganic and organic contaminants from wastewater. One of the major issues with the adsorption-treatment process for the removal of contaminants from wastewater streams is the recovery and sustainable management of spent adsorbents. This review focuses on the effectiveness of emerging adsorbents and how the spent adsorbents could be recovered, regenerated, and further managed through reuse or safe disposal. The critical analysis of both conventional and emerging adsorbents on organic and inorganic contaminants in wastewater systems are evaluated. The various recovery and regeneration techniques of spent adsorbents including magnetic separation, filtration, thermal desorption and decomposition, chemical desorption, supercritical fluid desorption, advanced oxidation process and microbial assisted adsorbent regeneration are discussed in detail. The current challenges for the recovery and regeneration of adsorbents and the methodologies used for solving those problems are covered. The spent adsorbents are managed through regeneration for reuse (such as soil amendment, capacitor, catalyst/catalyst support) or safe disposal involving incineration and landfilling. Sustainable management of spent adsorbents, including processes involved in the recovery and regeneration of adsorbents for reuse, is examined in the context of resource recovery and circular economy. Finally, the review ends with the current drawbacks in the recovery and management of the spent adsorbents and the future directions for the economic and environmental feasibility of the system for industrial-scale application.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153555
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2022


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