Natural microfibrils/regenerated cellulose-based carbon aerogel for highly efficient oil/water separation

Xiang Ma, Shuang Zhou, Junting Li, Fei Xie, Hui Yang, Cheng Wang, Bradley D. Fahlman, Wenjiang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cellulose-based carbon aerogels as biodegradable and renewable biomass materials have presented potential applications in oil/water separation. Herein, a novel carbon aerogel composed of natural microfibrils/regenerated cellulose (NM/RCA) was directly prepared by economical hardwood pulp as raw material using a novel co-solvent composed of deep eutectic solvent (DES) and N-methyl morpholine-N-oxide monohydrate (NMMO·H2O). In addition, the morphology and structure of the filiform natural microfibers could be remained after carbonized at 400 ℃, which resulted in a low density (8–10 mg cm−3), high specific surface area (768.89 m2 g−1) and high sorption capability. In addition, the aerogel exhibited high compressibility, outstanding elasticity, excellent fatigue resistance, and recyclability (80.5% height recovery after repeating 100 cycles at the strain of 80%). Due to the morphology and composition of the carbonized microfiber surface, the superhydrophobic materials with a water contact angle of 151.5°, could sorb various oils and organic solvents with 65–133 times its own weight and maintain 91.9% sorption capacity after 25 cycles. In addition, the aerogels could achieve the continuous separation of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) from water with a high flux rate of 11,718.8 L m−2 h−1. Therefore, our prepared NM/RCA aerogels are anticipated to have broad potential applications in oil purification and contaminant remediation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131397
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Jul 15 2023


  • Cellulose carbon aerogel
  • Deep eutectic solvent
  • NMMO
  • Oil/water separation
  • Superhydrophobicity


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