The use of nutshell carbons in drinking water filters for removal of trace metals

Water Res. 2004 Feb;38(4):1062-8. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2003.10.047.


Filtration of drinking water by point-of-use (POU) or point-of-entry (POE) systems is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Drinking water is filtered to remove both organic and inorganic contaminants. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of granular activated carbon from nutshells (almond, English walnut, pecan) in a POU water filtration system to determine its effectiveness in removing select, potentially toxic metal ions, namely, copper (Cu2+), lead (Pb2+) or zinc (Zn2+) found in drinking water. The nutshell-based carbon system was designated "Envirofilter" and was compared to four commercial POU systems with brand names of BRITA, Omni Filter, PUR and Teledyne Water Pik. Eight prototype "Envirofilters", consisting of individual or binary mixtures of carbons made from acid-activated almond or pecan shells and steam-activated pecan or walnut shells were constructed and evaluated for adsorption of the three metal ions. The results indicated that a binary mixture of carbons from acid-activated almond and either steam-activated pecan or walnut shells were the most effective in removing these metals from drinking water of all the POU systems evaluated. Binary mixtures of acid-activated almond shell-based carbon with either steam-activated pecan shell- or walnut shell-based carbon removed nearly 100% of lead ion, 90-95% of copper ion and 80-90% of zinc ion. Overall the performance data on the "Envirofilters" suggest that these prototypes require less carbon than commercial filters to achieve the same metal adsorption efficiency and may also be a less expensive product.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Carbon
  • Copper / isolation & purification*
  • Filtration
  • Lead / isolation & purification*
  • Nuts
  • Water Pollutants / isolation & purification*
  • Water Purification / methods*
  • Zinc / isolation & purification*


  • Water Pollutants
  • Lead
  • Carbon
  • Copper
  • Zinc