Prof Dr Mervat El-Hoz

Balamand University, Lebanon

Opportunities and Challenges of Nanotechnology in Water and Wastewater Treatment


Mervat El-Hoz, Prof.

Chairperson, Environmental Engineering Program

The University of Balamand

P.O.Box 100, Tripoli, Lebanon



       Water scarcity worldwide is widespread even in water-rich areas where freshwater is unevenly distributed and because of the tremendous pressure of population growth, rapidly growing demand, industrialization, civilization, environmental change (climate change and global warming), agricultural activities and water quality degradation. Depending on future population growth rates, between 2.7 and 3.2 billion people may live in scarce conditions by 2025, and by 2050 between 2 and 7 billion people will face water scarcity. The need for technological innovation to support integrated water management cannot be exaggerated. Against this background, there is a need to explore new technologies to provide clean drinking water. This requires tremendous research to develop new water purification techniques taking into account energy requirements and environmental impact. These technologies should be much cheaper, more reliable, less energy intensive and more environmentally friendly. One methodology being investigated in many countries to address this challenge of expanding access to safe drinking water, ensuring drinking water supplies and reducing global water pollution is the application of nanotechnology. Globally, nanomaterials have been the focus of active research and development in recent years due to the exceptional properties resulting from the size of the nanoscale, its high surface area that can be used effectively to remove toxic metal ions, pathogenic microbes, organic and inorganic solutes from water.


       This article highlights nanomaterials and their properties in addition to nanotechnology-based water treatment technologies that are used to purify and decontaminate water, disinfection, improve desalination of seawater and salt water, and safe reuse of wastewater. It also compares the performance of conventional technologies with nanotechnology for water treatment, industrial wastewater and environmental remediation; the benefits of nanotechnology to increase their utilization for sustainable water management, and water supply through the safe use of non-conventional water sources. Finally, it covered the constraints compared to current processes; the challenges associated with cost-effective development; and research needs for marketing.


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