Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1233–1246 | Cite as

Cerium dioxide and composites for the removal of toxic metal ions

  • Sharon Olivera
  • K. Chaitra
  • Krishna Venkatesh
  • Handanahally Basavarajaiah MuralidharaEmail author
  • InamuddinEmail author
  • Abdullah M. Asiri
  • Mohd Imran Ahamed


The presence of contaminants in potable water is a cause of worldwide concern. In particular, the presence of metals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium can affect human health. There is thus a need for advanced techniques of water decontamination. Adsorbents based on cerium dioxide (CeO2), also named ‘ceria,’ have been used to remove contaminants such as arsenic, fluoride, lead and cadmium. Ceria and composites display high surface area, controlled porosity and morphology, and abundance of functional groups. They have already found usage in many applications including optical, semiconductor and catalysis. Exploiting their attractive features for water treatment would unravel their potential. We review the potential of ceria and its composites for the removal of toxic metal ions from aqueous medium. The article discusses toxic contaminants in water and their impact on human health; the synthesis and adsorptive behavior of ceria-based materials including the role of morphology and surface area on the adsorption capacity, best fit adsorption isotherms, kinetic models, possible mechanisms, regeneration of adsorbents; and future perspectives of using metal oxides such as ceria. The focus of the report is the generation of cost-effective oxides of rare-earth metal, cerium, in their standalone and composite forms for contaminant removal.


Ceria Metal ion Composite CeO2 Arsenic Water purification 



Authors thank the Centre for Incubation, Innovation, Research and Consultancy, Jyothy Institute of Technology and Sri Sringeri Sharadha Peetam for supporting this study. Dr. Inamuddin is thankful to the King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to carry out this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Albadarin AB, Mangwandi C, Walker GM et al (2013) Influence of solution chemistry on Cr(VI) reduction and complexation onto date-pits/tea-waste biomaterials. J Environ Manage 114:190–201. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albadarin AB, Yang Z, Mangwandi C et al (2014) Experimental design and batch experiments for optimization of Cr(VI) removal from aqueous solutions by hydrous cerium oxide nanoparticles. Chem Eng Res Des 92:1354–1362. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ali I (2012) New generation adsorbents for water treatment. Chem Rev 112:5073–5091. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ansari R, Hasanzadeh M, Ostovar F (2017) Arsenic removal from water samples using CeO2/Fe2O3 nanocomposite. Int J Nanosci Nanotechnol 13:335–345Google Scholar
  5. Basu T, Ghosh UC (2013) Nano-structured iron(III)–cerium(IV) mixed oxide: synthesis, characterization and arsenic sorption kinetics in the presence of co-existing ions aiming to apply for high arsenic groundwater treatment. Appl Surf Sci 283:471–481. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bhatnagar A, Sillanpää M (2010) Utilization of agro-industrial and municipal waste materials as potential adsorbents for water treatment—a review. Chem Eng J 157:277–296. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bruix A, Neyman KM, Illas F (2010) Adsorption, oxidation state, and diffusion of Pt atoms on the CeO2(111) surface. J Phys Chem C 114:14202–14207. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cao CY, Cui ZM, Chen CQ et al (2010) Ceria hollow nanospheres produced by a template-free microwave-assisted hydrothermal method for heavy metal ion removal and catalysis. J Phys Chem C 114:9865–9870. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carrettin S, Concepción P, Corma A et al (2004) Nanocrystalline CeO2 increases the activity of Au for CO oxidation by two orders of magnitude. Angew Chem Int Ed 116:2592–2594. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen C, Hu J, Shao D et al (2009) Adsorption behavior of multiwall carbon nanotube/iron oxide magnetic composites for Ni(II) and Sr(II). J Hazard Mater 164:923–928. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen B, Zhu Z, Liu S et al (2014) Facile hydrothermal synthesis of nanostructured hollow iron–cerium alkoxides and their superior arsenic adsorption performance. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 6:14016–14025CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Contreras AR, Garcia A et al (2012) Potential use of CeO2, TiO2 and Fe3O4 nanoparticles for the removal of cadmium from water. Desalin Water 1–3:296–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Contreras AR, Casals E, Puntes V et al (2015) Use of cerium oxide (CeO2) nanoparticles for the adsorption of dissolved cadmium(II), lead(II) and chromium(VI) at two different pHs in single and multi-component systems. Glob NEST J 17:536–543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dados A, Kartsiouli E, Chatzimitakos T et al (2014a) In situ trapping of As, Sb and Se hydrides on nanometer-sized ceria-coated iron oxide–silica and slurry suspension introduction to ICP-OES. Talanta 130:142–147. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dados A, Paparizou E, Eleftheriou P et al (2014b) Nanometer-sized ceria-coated silica–iron oxide for the reagentless microextraction/preconcentration of heavy metals in environmental and biological samples followed by slurry introduction to ICP-OES. Talanta 121:127–135. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Di ZC, Ding J, Peng XJ et al (2006) Chromium adsorption by aligned carbon nanotubes supported ceria nanoparticles. Chemosphere 62:861–865. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. El-sherif RM, Lasheen TA, Jebril EA (2017) Fabrication and characterization of CeO2–TiO2–Fe2O3 magnetic nanoparticles for rapid removal of uranium ions from industrial waste solutions. J Mol Liq 241:260–269. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Farmer J (2010) Ag adsorption on reduced CeO2(111) thin films. J Phys 2:17166–17172. Google Scholar
  19. Feng Q, Zhang Z, Ma Y et al (2012) Adsorption and desorption characteristics of arsenic onto ceria nanoparticles. Nanoscale Res Lett 7:1–8. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fuentes RO, Acuña LM, Zimicz MG et al (2008) Formation and structural properties of Ce–Zr mixed oxide nanotubes. Chem Mater 20:7356–7363. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ge F, Li MM, Ye H, Zhao BX (2012) Effective removal of heavy metal ions Cd2+, Zn2+, Pb2+, Cu2+ from aqueous solution by polymer-modified magnetic nanoparticles. J Hazard Mater 211–212:366–372. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gong J, Liu T, Wang X et al (2011) Efficient removal of heavy metal ions from aqueous systems with the assembly of anisotropic layered double hydroxide nanocrystals@carbon nanosphere. Environ Sci Technol 45:6181–6187. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Guo S, Sun W, Yang W et al (2015) Synthesis of Mn3O4/CeO2 hybrid nanotubes and their spontaneous formation of a paper-like, free-standing membrane for the removal of arsenite from water. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 7:26291–26300. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gupta K, Bhattacharya S, Chattopadhyay D et al (2011) Ceria associated manganese oxide nanoparticles: synthesis, characterization and arsenic(V) sorption behavior. Chem Eng J 172:219–229. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hokkanen S, Repo E, Lou S, Sillanpää M (2015) Removal of arsenic(V) by magnetic nanoparticle activated microfibrillated cellulose. Chem Eng J 260:886–894. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hu JS, Zhong LS, Song WG, Wan LJ (2008) Synthesis of hierarchically structured metal oxides and their application in heavy metal ion removal. Adv Mater 20:2977–2982. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hua M, Zhang S, Pan B et al (2012) Heavy metal removal from water/wastewater by nanosized metal oxides: a review. J Hazard Mater 211–212:317–331. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Huang X, Pan M (2016) The highly efficient adsorption of Pb(II) on graphene oxides: a process combined by batch experiments and modeling techniques. J Mol Liq 215:410–416. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ismail AA, El-Midany AA, Ibrahim IA, Matsunaga H (2008) Heavy metal removal using SiO2–TiO2 binary oxide: experimental design approach. Adsorption 14:21–29. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Järup L, Berglund M, Elinder C et al (1998) Health effects of cadmium exposure: a review of the literature and a risk estimate. Scand J Work Environ Health 24:1–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jena S (2012) Synthesis of ceria nanopowder for the removal of hexavalent chromium from synthetic Cr(VI) solution. Doctoral dissertationGoogle Scholar
  32. Jiangtao Z (2016) Ceria hollow nanospheres synthesized by hydrothermal method and their adsorption capacity. Chin J Mater Res. Google Scholar
  33. Kang D, Yu X, Ge M (2017) Morphology-dependent properties and adsorption performance of CeO2 for fluoride removal. Chem Eng J 330:36–43. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kasgoz H, Durmus A, Kasgoz A (2008) Enhanced swelling and adsorption properties of AAm-AMPSNa/clay hydrogel nanocomposites for heavy metal ion removal. Polym Adv Technol 19:213–220. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Khan NA, Hasan Z, Jhung SH (2013) Adsorptive removal of hazardous materials using metal-organic frameworks (MOFs): A review. J Hazard Mater 244–245:444–456. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kumar KY, Muralidhara HB, Nayaka YA et al (2013) Low-cost synthesis of metal oxide nanoparticles and their application in adsorption of commercial dye and heavy metal ion in aqueous solution. Powder Technol 246:125–136. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kuncham K, Nair S, Durani S, Bose R (2017) Efficient removal of uranium(VI) from aqueous medium using ceria nanocrystals: an adsorption behavioural study. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 313:101–112. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lee YC, Yang JW (2012) Self-assembled flower-like TiO2 on exfoliated graphite oxide for heavy metal removal. J Ind Eng Chem 18:1178–1185. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Li R, Li Q, Gao S, Shang JK (2012) Exceptional arsenic adsorption performance of hydrous cerium oxide nanoparticles: part A. Adsorption capacity and mechanism. Chem Eng J 185–186:127–135. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Li Z, Shen Y, Li X et al (2016) Synergetic catalytic removal of HgO and NO over CeO2(ZrO2)/TiO2. Catal Commun 82:55–60. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lin KS, Chowdhury S (2010) Synthesis, characterization, and application of 1-D cerium oxide nanomaterials: a review. Int J Mol Sci 11:3226–3251. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lin J, Wu Y, Khayambashi A et al (2017) Preparation of a novel CeO2/SiO2 adsorbent and its adsorption behavior for fluoride ion. Adsorpt Sci Technol. Google Scholar
  43. Liu J, Zhao Z, Jiang G (2008) Coating Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles with humic acid for high efficient removal of heavy metals in water. Environ Sci Technol 42:6949–6954. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Liu J, Cao J, Hu Y et al (2017) Adsorption of phosphate ions from aqueous by CeO2 functionalized Fe3O4@SiO2 core-shell magnetic nanomaterial. Water Sci Technol 76:2867–2875. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mahapatra A, Mishra BG, Hota G (2013) Electrospun Fe2O3–Al2O3 nanocomposite fibers as efficient adsorbent for removal of heavy metal ions from aqueous solution. J Hazard Mater 258–259:116–123. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Martin S, Griswold W (2009) Human health effects of heavy metals. Environ Sci Technol Br Citiz 15:1–6Google Scholar
  47. Mercado-Borrayo BM, Contreras R, Sánchez A et al (2018) Optimisation of the removal conditions for heavy metals from water: a comparison between steel furnace slag and CeO2 nanoparticles. Arab J Chem. Google Scholar
  48. Minovic-Arsic T, Kalijadis A, Matovic B et al (2016) Arsenic(III) adsorption from aqueous solutions on novel carbon cryogel/ceria nanocomposite. Process Appl Ceram 10:17–23. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mohapatra M, Padhi T, Anand S, Mishra BK (2012) CTAB mediated Mg-doped nano Fe2O3: synthesis, characterization, and fluoride adsorption behavior. Desalin Water Treat 50:376–386. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Naim MM, Moneer AA, El-said GF (2012) Defluoridation of commercial and analar sodium fluoride solutions without using additives by batch electrocoagulation-flotation technique. Desalin Water Treat 44:110–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nath BK, Chaliha C, Kalita E, Kalita MC (2016) Synthesis and characterization of ZnO:CeO2:nanocellulose:PANI bionanocomposite. A bimodal agent for arsenic adsorption and antibacterial action. Carbohydr Polym 148:397–405. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pan C, Zhang D, Shi L (2008a) CTAB assisted hydrothermal synthesis, controlled conversion and CO oxidation properties of CeO2 nanoplates, nanotubes, and nanorods. J Solid State Chem 181:1298–1306. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pan C, Zhang D, Shi L, Fang J (2008b) Template-free synthesis, controlled conversion, and CO oxidation properties of CeO2 nanorods, nanotubes, nanowires, and nanocubes. Eur J Inorg Chem. Google Scholar
  54. Peng X, Luan Z, Ding J et al (2005) Ceria nanoparticles supported on carbon nanotubes for the removal of arsenate from water. Mater Lett 59:399–403. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Priyadharsan A, Vasanthakumar V, Karthikeyan S et al (2017) Multi-functional properties of ternary CeO2/SnO2/rGO nanocomposites: visible light driven photocatalyst and heavy metal removal. J Photochem Photobiol A Chem 346:32–45. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Qizheng CUI, Xiangting D, Jinxian W, Mei LI (2008) Direct fabrication of cerium oxide hollow nanofibers by electrospinning. J Rare Earths 26:664–669. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Raichur AM, Panvekar V (2002) Removal of As(V) by adsorption onto mixed rare earth oxides. Sep Sci Technol 37:1095–1108. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Recillas S, Colón J, Casals E et al (2010) Chromium VI adsorption on cerium oxide nanoparticles and morphology changes during the process. J Hazard Mater 184:425–431. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sakthivel TS, Das S, Pratt CJ, Seal S (2017) One-pot synthesis of a ceria–graphene oxide composite for the efficient removal of arsenic species. Nanoscale 9:3367–3374. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sharma R, Singh N, Gupta A et al (2014) Electrospun chitosan–polyvinyl alcohol composite nanofibers loaded with cerium for efficient removal of arsenic from contaminated water. J Mater Chem A 2:16669–16677. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sun C, Li H, Zhang H et al (2005) Controlled synthesis of CeO2 nanorods by a solvothermal method. Nanotechnology 16:1454–1463. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sun W, Li Q, Gao S, Shang JK (2012) Exceptional arsenic adsorption performance of hydrous cerium oxide nanoparticles: part B. Integration with silica monoliths and dynamic treatment. Chem Eng J 185–186:136–143. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Talebzadeh F, Zandipak R, Sobhanardakani S (2016) CeO2 nanoparticles supported on CuFe2O4 nanofibers as novel adsorbent for removal of Pb(II), Ni(II), and V(V) ions from petrochemical wastewater. Desalin Water Treat 57:28363–28377. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Taylor EW (1959) International standards for drinking-water. Nature 183:867–868. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Vaizoğullar AI, Balci A, Kula İ, Ugurlu M (2016) Preparation, characterization, and adsorption studies of core@shell SiO2@CeO2 nanoparticles: a new candidate to remove Hg(II) from aqueous solutions. Turk J Chem 40:565–575. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Vantomme A, Yuan ZY, Du G, Su BL (2005) Surfactant-assisted large-scale preparation of crystalline CeO2 nanorods. Langmuir 21:1132–1135. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Xiao H, Ai Z, Zhang L (2009) Nonaqueous sol–gel synthesized hierarchical CeO2 nanocrystal microspheres as novel adsorbents for wastewater treatment. J Phys Chem C 113:16625–16630. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Xu W, Wang J, Wang L et al (2013) Enhanced arsenic removal from water by hierarchically porous CeO2–ZrO2 nanospheres: role of surface- and structure-dependent properties. J Hazard Mater 260:498–507. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Yamamura S, Bartram J, Csanady M et al (2003) Drinking water guidelines and standards. Arsenic, water, and health: the state of the art. World Health Organization, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  70. Yari S, Abbasizadeh S, Mousavi SE et al (2015) Adsorption of Pb(II) and Cu(II) ions from aqueous solution by an electrospun CeO2 nanofiber adsorbent functionalized with mercapto groups. Process Saf Environ Prot 94:159–171. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zhang D, Yan T, Pan C et al (2009) Carbon nanotube-assisted synthesis and high catalytic activity of CeO2 hollow nanobeads. Mater Chem Phys 113:527–530. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Zhang T, Li Q, Liu Y et al (2011) Equilibrium and kinetics studies of fluoride ions adsorption on CeO2/Al2O3 composites pretreated with non-thermal plasma. Chem Eng J 168:665–671. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Zhang T, Li Q, Mei Z et al (2013) Adsorption of fluoride ions onto non-thermal plasma-modified CeO2/Al2O3 composites. Desalin Water Treat 52:3367–3376. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Zhao G, Li J, Ren X et al (2011) Few-layered graphene oxide nanosheets for heavy metal ion pollution management. Environ Sci Technol 45:10454–10462. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zhong LS, Hu JS, Cao AM et al (2007) 3D flowerlike ceria micro/nanocomposite structure and its application for water treatment and CO removal. Chem Mater 19:1648–1655. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jain UniversityBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Incubation, Innovation, Research and Consultancy (CIIRC)Jyothy Institute of TechnologyBangaloreIndia
  3. 3.Chemistry Department, Faculty of ScienceKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.Centre of Excellence for Advanced Materials Research (CEAMR)King Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia
  5. 5.Advanced Functional Materials Laboratory, Department of Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering and TechnologyAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarhIndia
  6. 6.Department of Chemistry, Faculty of ScienceAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarhIndia

Personalised recommendations