Colourants, micropollutants and heavy metals are regarded as the most notorious hazardous contaminants found in rivers, oceans and sewage treatment plants, with detrimental impacts on human health and environment. In recent development, algal biomass showed great potential for the synthesis of engineered algal adsorbents suitable for the adsorptive management of various pollutants. This review presents comprehensive investigations on the engineered synthesis routes focusing mainly on mechanical, thermochemical and activation processes to produce algal adsorbents. The adsorptive performances of engineered algal adsorbents are assessed in accordance with different categories of hazardous pollutants as well as in terms of their experimental and modelled adsorption capacities. Due to the unique physicochemical properties of macroalgae and microalgae in their adsorbent forms, the adsorption of hazardous pollutants was found to be highly effective, which involved different mechanisms such as physisorption, chemisorption, ion-exchange, complexation and others depending on the types of pollutants. Overall, both macroalgae and microalgae not only can be tailored into different forms of adsorbents based on the applications, their adsorption capacities are also far more superior compared to the conventional adsorbents.
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