Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanocellulose Sponges to Combat Oil Pollution

07.05.2014

Miracle cure made from plants and recycled paper

All industrial nations need large volumes of oil which is normally delivered by ocean-going tankers or via inland waterways to its destination.

The most environmentally-friendly way of cleaning up nature after an oil spill accident is to absorb and recover the floating film of oil. The Empa researchers Tanja Zimmermann and Philippe Tingaut, in collaboration with Gilles Sèbe from the University of Bordeaux, have now succeeded in developing a highly absorbent material which separates the oil film from the water and can then be easily recovered, “silylated” nanocellulose sponge.

In laboratory tests the sponges absorbed up to 50 times their own weight of mineral oil or engine oil. They kept their shape to such an extent that they could be removed with pincers from the water. The next step is to fine tune the sponges so that they can be used not only on a laboratory scale but also in real disasters. To this end, a partner from the industry is currently sought.

One step production – from cellulose plants

Nanofibrillated Cellulose (NFC), the basic material for the sponges, is extracted from cellulose-containing materials like wood pulp, agricultural by products (such as straw) or waste materials (such as recycled paper) by adding water to them and pressing the aqueous pulp through several narrow nozzles at high pressure. This produces a suspension with gel-like properties containing long and interconnected cellulose nanofibres.

When the water from the gel is replaced with air by freeze-drying, a nanocellulose sponge is formed which absorbs both water and oil. This pristine material sinks in water and is thus nott useful for the envisaged purpose.

The Empa researchers have succeeded in modifying the chemical properties of the nanocellulose in just one process step by admixing a reactive alkoxysilane moleculein the gel before freeze-drying. The nanocellulose sponge loses its hydrophilic properties, is no longer suffused with water and only binds with oily substances.

In the laboratory the “silylated” nanocellulose sponge absorbed test substances like engine oil, silicone oil, ethanol, acetone or chloroform within seconds. Nanofibrillated cellulose sponge, therefore, reconciles several desirable properties: it is absorbent, floats reliably on water even when fully saturated and is biodegradable.

Download images at https://flic.kr/s/aHsjX9EZTh

Dr. Philippe Tingaut, Wood, phone +41 58 765 4749, Philippe.Tingaut@empa.ch
Dr. Tanja Zimmermann, Wood, phone +41 58 765 4115, Tanja.Zimmermann@empa.ch

Rainer Klose | newswise
Further information:
http://www.empa.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Female bonobos start up early
28.07.2014 | Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

nachricht Pump! And you will grow
28.07.2014 | Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

9th European Wood-Based Panel Symposium 2014 – meeting point for the wood-based material branch

24.07.2014 | Event News

“Lens on Life” - Artists and Scientists Explore Cell Divison

08.07.2014 | Event News

First International Conference on Consumer Research | ICCR 2014: Early bird deadline July 31, 2014

08.07.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

Female bonobos start up early

28.07.2014 | Life Sciences

First national study finds trees saving lives, reducing respiratory problems

28.07.2014 | Health and Medicine

Kidney transplant drug halves the early risk of rejection and allows less toxic treatment

28.07.2014 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>