Biopolymer Technologies for Environmental Applications

  • Kanmani Palanisamy
  • Aravind Jeyaseelan
  • Kamaraj Murugesan
  • Suresh Babu Palanisamy
Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 22)


Pollution of water resources resulting from effluent discharge has been a long-standing environmental concern. Traditional methods of wastewater treatment are often ineffective in meeting the required standards and are not cost-effective. Use of biopolymers as adsorbents and natural flocculants in wastewater treatment is thus gaining prominence. Production from nonrenewable resources and their resistance to biodegradation are issues that deter us from relying on conventional petrochemical-based polymers. In this context, biopolymers derived from natural sources are emerging as sustainable and safe alternatives. Especially, cellulose and chitosan have attracted a great deal of attention.

Here, we reviewed the potential environmental benefits of other equally resourceful biopolymers such as tannin, pectin, agar, alginate, acrylamide, carrageenan, starch, dextran, polylactic acid, and polyhydroxyalkanoates. The major points are as follows: (1) Biopolymers function as useful adsorbents for the removal of organic as well as inorganic pollutants encompassing fluorides, nitrates, phosphates, heavy metal hydrocarbons, dyes, and pesticides. For such applications, biopolymer-based hydrogels and nanocomposite films have been experimented with. (2) The coagulating-flocculating abilities of biopolymers result in enhanced effluent clarification. (3) Biopolymers have been relied upon for pro-environment initiatives in the agricultural and construction sectors. Soil strengthening, anti-desertification, and sealing of concrete leaks are a few instances where they could play a lead role. (4) The far-reaching applications of these compounds extend to making catalysts for hydrogen generation and proton-conducting membranes for electrochemical devices. Recent developments on these fronts, their techno-economic feasibilities, and future prospects have been focused in this review.


Adsorbents Biopolymer electrolytes Effluent treatment Flocculants Heavy metals Hydrogen generation Nonmetallic pollutants Pesticides Soil strengthening Synthetic dyes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kanmani Palanisamy
    • 1
  • Aravind Jeyaseelan
    • 2
  • Kamaraj Murugesan
    • 2
  • Suresh Babu Palanisamy
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyKumaraguru College of TechnologyCoimbatoreIndia
  2. 2.College of Biological and Chemical EngineeringAddis Ababa Science and Technology UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia

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