Hydrophobic composite foams based on nanocellulose-sepiolite for oil sorption applications
Sanguanwong A., Flood A.E., Ogawa M., Martín-Sampedro R., Darder M., Wicklein B., Aranda P., Ruiz-Hitzky E.
TEMPO (2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidin-1-oxyl)-oxidized cellulose nanofibers (CNF) were assembled to fibrous clay sepiolite (SEP) by means of a high shear homogenizer and an ultrasound treatment followed by lyophilization using three different methods: normal freezing, directional freezing, and a sequential combination of both methods. Methyltrimethoxysilane (MTMS) was grafted to the foam surface by the vapor deposition method to introduce hydrophobicity to the resulting materials. Both the SEP addition (for the normal and directional freezing methods) and the refreezing preparation procedure enhanced the compressive strength of the foams, showing compressive moduli in the range from 28 to 103 kPa for foams loaded with 20% w/w sepiolite. Mercury intrusion porosimetry shows that the average pore diameters were in the range of 30–45 µm depending on the freezing method. This large porosity leads to materials with very low apparent density, around 6 mg/cm3, and very high porosity >99.5%. In addition, water contact angle measurement and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) were applied to confirm the foam hydrophobicity, which is suitable for use as an oil sorbent. The sorption ability of these composite foams has been tested using olive and motor oils as models of organophilic liquid adsorbates, observing a maximum sorption capacity of 138 and 90 g/g, respectively.
SEM images of pore walls in the interior of the foams at 40,000 × magnification of (A) unmodified CNF100n and (B) CNF80-SEP20n foams (scale bar: 2 µm).