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Journal of Materials
Volume 2016, Article ID 3186589, 10 pages
Research Article

Preparation, Characterization, and Cationic Functionalization of Cellulose-Based Aerogels for Wastewater Clarification

1Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA
2Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA

Received 1 August 2016; Revised 10 November 2016; Accepted 16 November 2016

Academic Editor: Hyung-Ho Park

Copyright © 2016 Yang Hu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aerogels are a series of materials with porous structure and light weight which can be applied to many industrial divisions as insulators, sensors, absorbents, and cushions. In this study, cellulose-based aerogels (aerocelluloses) were prepared from cellulosic material (microcrystalline cellulose) in sodium hydroxide/water solvent system followed by supercritical drying operation. The average specific surface area of aerocelluloses was 124 m2/g. The nitrogen gas (N2) adsorption/desorption isotherms revealed type H1 hysteresis loops for aerocelluloses, suggesting that aerocelluloses may possess a porous structure with cylindrically shaped pores open on both ends. FTIR and XRD analyses showed that the crystallinity of aerocelluloses was significantly decreased as compared to microcrystalline cellulose and that aerocelluloses exhibited a crystalline structure of cellulose II as compared to microcrystalline cellulose (cellulose I). To perform cationic functionalization, a cationic agent, (3-chloro-2-hydroxypropyl) trimethylammonium chloride, was used to introduce positively charged sites on aerocelluloses. The cationized aerocelluloses exhibited a strong ability to remove anionic dyes from wastewater. Highly porous and low cost aerocelluloses prepared in this study would be also promising as a fast absorbent for environmental pollutants.