Journal of Materials Science, Vol.56, No.3, 2763-2776, 2021
Highly compressible and durable superhydrophobic cellulose aerogels for oil/water emulsion separation with high flux
Nowadays high porosity aerogels are widely applied in wastewater purification, while the fragility and unversatility of nascent cellulose aerogels limited the application in oil/water filtering separation. Here, highly compressible, elastic, superhydrophobic cellulose/poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) composite aerogels were fabricated via combination of chemical cross-linking, freeze drying and silanization. The obtained cellulose/PVA aerogels exhibited durable superhydrophobicity with WCA of 156.6 degrees, even maintaining 155.0 degrees after 30 days. Synergistic effects of physical entanglement, chemical cross-linking and H-bond network between cellulose and PVA molecular chains endowed the aerogels with excellent compressibility and recoverability. The aerogels exhibited maximum compressive stress of 490.7 kPa at 90% strain, even without reduction in mechanical strength under 70% compressive strain for 10 cycles. More importantly, the strengthened aerogels exhibited remarkable separation performances for both immiscible oil/water mixtures and surfactant-stabilized water-in-oil emulsions. Fascinating permeation flux of up to 7176.3 L m(-2) h(-1)and total separation amount as high as 4550.6 L m(-2)with separation efficiency of 98.5% for water-in-cyclohexane emulsion were harvested. Thus, this work provides a green, sustainable and mass-producible cellulose-based aerogel for high-efficiency oily wastewater remediation.