Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 113–146 | Cite as

Applications of nanocomposite hydrogels for biomedical engineering and environmental protection

  • Gaurav SharmaEmail author
  • Bharti Thakur
  • Mu. NaushadEmail author
  • Amit Kumar
  • Florian J. Stadler
  • Sulaiman M. Alfadul
  • Genene Tessema Mola


Nanocomposite hydrogels are polymeric networks that possess a unique property of hydration. The presence of alcohols, carboxylic acids and amides as hydrophilic moieties in structure of nanocomposite hydrogels enhances their stiffness and water-absorbing capacity. Addition of cross-linker in the synthesis of hydrogels increases their stability under extreme conditions of temperature, pH and pressure. Natural polymer-based nanocomposite hydrogels are biodegradable, highly hydrophilic and possess good mechanical strength. Gelatin, chitin, cellulose, pectin, carrageenan, starch and alginate are natural polymers commonly used to fabricate nanocomposite hydrogels. Nanocomposite hydrogels have special characteristics such as high swelling rate, selectivity and stimuli-sensitive nature. Here we review nanocomposite hydrogels for environmental protection and biomedical engineering. Applications in biomedical engineering include drug delivery agents, wound dressing, tissue engineering and antibacterials. Applications in environmental protection include ion exchangers, adsorption, photocatalysis and soil conditioning. Many nanocomposite hydrogels show excellent adsorption selectivity for heavy metal ions: Cu2+ up to 30.35 mg/g, Pb2+ up to 35.94 mg/g, and Zn2+ and Fe3+ up to 94.34 mg/g. Xanthan gum-based nanocomposite hydrogel has removed 96% dye from industrial effluent as reported. In addition, most of the nanocomposite hydrogels showed better adsorption capacity for pollutants in the pH range from 5 to 7. The nanocomposite hydrogels could also be regenerated and successfully utilized for several times. Nanocomposite hydrogels are therefore good bio-absorbent materials for environmental detoxification.


Nanocomposite hydrogels Environmental protection Biomedical engineering Adsorption Photocatalysis 



This work was supported by the Deanship of Scientific Research, King Saud University, for funding through Vice Deanship of Scientific Research Chairs.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Materials Science and Engineering, Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Polymer Science and Technology, Guangdong Research Center for Interfacial Engineering of Functional Materials, Nanshan District Key Lab for Biopolymers and Safety EvaluationShenzhen UniversityShenzhenPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Optoelectronic Devices and Systems of Ministry of Education and Guangdong Province, College of Optoelectronic EngineeringShenzhen UniversityShenzhenPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.School of ChemistryShoolini UniversitySolanIndia
  4. 4.Advanced Materials Research Chair, Department of Chemistry, College of Science, Bld.#5King Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  5. 5.King Abdulaziz City for Science and TechnologyRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  6. 6.School of Chemistry and PhysicsUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalScottsvilleSouth Africa

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