Performance of metal-organic frameworks for the adsorptive removal of potentially toxic elements in a water system: A critical review

Sammani Ramanayaka, Meththika Vithanage, Ajit Sarmah, Taicheng An, Ki Hyun Kim, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

105 Citations (Scopus)


Elevated levels of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in aqueous environments have drawn attention recently due to their presence and toxicity to living beings. There have been numerous attempts to remove PTEs from aqueous media. The potential of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) in removing PTEs from aqueous media has been recognized due to their distinctive advantages (e.g., increased removal capability, large surface area, adjustable porosity, and recyclability). Because of the poor stability of MOFs in water, pre and post synthetic modification and functionalization of MOFs have also been developed for water treatment investigations. This review addresses the performance and mechanisms of PTE removal in various modified MOFs in detail. In order to compare the performance of MOFs, here we used partition coefficient (PC) instead of maximum adsorption capacity, which is sensitively influenced by initial loading concentrations. Therefore, the PC of each material was used to evaluate the adsorption performance of different MOFs and to compare with other sorbents. Furthermore, it discusses the scale-up issues and forthcoming pathway for the research and development needs of MOFs for effective PTE removal. This review further elucidates the main removal mechanisms of PTEs by MOFs. Commercial or domestic water treatment systems or water filters can utilize engineered MOFs to treat water by adsorptive removal. However, marketable products have yet to be investigated thoroughly due to limitations of the large-scale synthesis of MOFs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34359-34376
Number of pages18
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number59
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research Council of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura is acknowledged for financial support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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