Some Effective Methods for Treatment of Wastewater from Cu Production

  • Vesna KrstićEmail author
Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 53)


The total global production of refined copper in 2017 was approximately 19 million tons, with an annual growth rate of 3.4%. During the copper production process, a large proportion of the accompanying toxic metals end up in the environment. For this reason, there is a significant need for advanced wastewater treatment methods and technologies in order to ensure optimal water quality, eliminate heavy metals and other pollutants from water, and suggest appropriate industrial technology for the treatment of wastewater. Although various techniques for treatment of wastewater contaminated with heavy metals are being applied today, the choice of the most suitable wastewater treatment process depends on some basic commonly accepted parameters which will be discussed in this paper.

The methods and techniques such as adsorption on the new sorbents (biosorbents, agricultural and industrial wastes (lignocellulosic materials) as an ecological adsorbent; nano-adsorbents, activated carbon, carbon nanotubes, graphene, MgO, MnO, ZnO, TiO2, Fe3O4, etc.), nanotechnology, photocatalysis, nano zero-valent iron (nZVI), the use of dimensionally stable anodes in electrolysis, and phytoremediation have proved to be adequate in the treatment of wastewater from the support in particular toxic metals such as copper (Cu), lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), nickel (Ni), chromium (Cr), arsenic (As), zinc (Zn), and mercury (Hg), from primary and secondary copper production. Sorbents can be regenerated or concentrated by combustion and electrolysis using dimensionally stable anode; metals can be selectively separated and can be returned to the production process. Working principles and the advantages and disadvantages of the mentioned materials and methods for water remediation will be discussed in this paper. Due to their importance of the impact on the living world and on the environment, the toxicity of each of these polluting metals will also be demonstrated. The results show that water is generally polluted and that in the near future, we will have to take the most serious approach to addressing this problem. Great efforts are already being made to come up with the most efficient and inexpensive methods for wastewater treatment. This generally requires combining multiple methods for quality problem-solving, in accordance with the type and concentration of the pollution identified. In addition to engaging experts from the natural sciences, it is also necessary to include a management system and link up ministries of ecology at the state level and international level, in order to approach this problem more efficiently and to preserve rivers that flow through multiple lands and carry with them substances harmful to human health and to the environment and rivers which then flow with these substances into lakes, seas, and oceans.


Toxicity and heavy metals Wastewater treatment Adsorption on new adsorbents Nanotechnology Photocatalysis Nano zero-valent iron Dimensionally stable anode Phytoremediation 



Adaptive neural fuzzy inference system


Bed depth service time


Binding energy




Carbon nanomaterials


Chitosan/silicon-coated carbon nanotubes


Dimensionally stable anode


Dimensionally stable electrodes


Derjaguin, Landau, Verwey, and Overbeek theory


Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


Energy-dispersive X-ray


Electrospun nanofiber membranes


European Union


Ferric reducing antioxidant power


Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy


Graphene oxide


High-resolution Auger electron spectroscopy


Isoelectric point


Mesoporous carbon


Maximum contaminant level


Mixed metal oxide


Modified mesoporous silica–carbon


Multiwalled carbon nanotubes


Not available




Nuclear magnetic resonance




Nano zero-valent iron




Oxygen evolution potential


Oxygen evolution reaction






Polyethylene terephthalate




Platinum group metals


Para-phenylene terephthamide






Polyvinyl chloride


Polyvinylidene fluoride




Reverse osmosis


Scanning electron microscopy


Standard hydrogen electrode


Single-walled carbon nanotubes


Transmission electron microscopy


Thermogravimetric analysis




United States Environmental Protection Agency




World Health Organization


X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy


X-ray diffraction



This review was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Serbia. The author expresses great gratitude to the Ministry for Agreement No 451-03-68/2020-14/200052. The author is also thankful to Professor Carmen Blanco Delgado and especially to Professor Nicola Bolton, Marjan Gorišek and Jim Fleming for their overall support and selfless assistance. Also, the author is thankful to my loved ones for their patience and understanding.


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© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mining and Metallurgy Institute BorBorRepublic of Serbia
  2. 2.Technical FacultyUniversity of BelgradeBorRepublic of Serbia

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