Utilization of biochar for remediation of heavy metals in aqueous environments: A review and bibliometric analysis

Heliyon. 2024 Feb 7;10(4):e25785. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2024.e25785. eCollection 2024 Feb 29.


Biochar usage for removing heavy metals from aqueous environments has emerged as a promising research area with significant environmental and economic benefits. Using the PICO approach, the research question aimed to explore using biochar to remove heavy metals from aqueous media. We merged the data from Scopus and the Web of Science Core Collection databases to acquire a comprehensive perspective of the subject. The PRISMA guidelines were applied to establish the search parameters, identify the appropriate articles, and collect the bibliographic information from the publications between 2010 and 2022. The bibliometric analysis showed that biochar-based heavy metal remediation is a research field with increasing scholarly attention. The removal of Cr(VI), Pb(II), Cd(II), and Cu(II) was the most studied among the heavy metals. We identified five main clusters centered on adsorption, water treatment, adsorption models, analytical techniques, and hydrothermal carbonization by performing keyword co-occurrence analysis. Trending topics include biochar reusability, modification, acid mine drainage (AMD), wastewater treatment, and hydrochar. The reutilization of heavy metal-loaded spent biochar includes transforming it into electrodes for supercapacitors or stable catalyst materials. This study provides a comprehensive overview of biochar-based heavy metal remediation in aquatic environments and highlights knowledge gaps and future research directions.

Keywords: Adsorption; Bibliometric analysis; Bibliometrix; Biochar; Heavy metals; Meta-analysis; Wastewater.

Publication types

  • Review