Techno-economic analysis of phytoremediation: A strategic rethinking

Junye Wang, Mojtaba Aghajani Delavar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Phytoremediation is a cost-effective and environmentally sound approach, which uses plants to immobilize/stabilize, extract, decay, or lessen toxicity and contaminants. Despite successful evidence of field application, such as natural attenuations, and self-purification, the main barriers remain from a “promising” to a “commercial” approach. Therefore, the ultimate goal of this paper is to examine factors that contribute to phytoremediation's underutilization and discuss the real costs of phytoremediation when the time and land values are considered. We revisit mechanisms and processes of phytoremediation. We synthesize existing information and understanding based on previous works done on phytoremediation and its applications to provide the technical assessment and perspective views in the commercial acceptance of phytoremediation. The results show that phytoremediation is the most suitable for remote regions with low land values. Since these regions allow a longer period to be restored, land vegetation covers can be established in more or less time like natural attenuation. Since the length of phytoremediation is an inherent limitation, this inherent disadvantage limits its adoption in developed business regions, such as growing urban areas. Because high land values could not be recovered in the short term, phytoremediation is not cost-effective in those regions. We examine the potential measures that can enhance the performance of phytoremediation, such as soil amendments, and agricultural practices. The results obtained through review can clarify where/what conditions phytoremediation can provide the most suitable solutions at a large scale. Finally, we identify the main barriers and knowledge gaps to establishing a vegetation cover in large-scale applications and highlight the research priorities for increased acceptance of phytoremediation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number165949
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec. 2023


  • Contaminated soil
  • Environmental pollution
  • Phytomanagement
  • Phytoremediation
  • Reclamation


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