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Polymers 2016, 8(2), 52; doi:10.3390/polym8020052

Functionalized Cellulose Networks for Efficient Oil Removal from Oil–Water Emulsions

Smart Materials, Nanophysics, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, via Morego 30, 16163 Genova, Italy
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Academic Editor: Scott M. Husson
Received: 30 November 2015 / Revised: 3 February 2016 / Accepted: 5 February 2016 / Published: 17 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Thin Films and Membranes 2015)
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Abstract

The separation of oil from water in emulsions is a great environmental challenge, since oily wastewater is industrially produced. Here, we demonstrate a highly efficient method to separate oil from water in non-stabilized emulsions, using functionalized cellulose fiber networks. This is achieved by the modification of the wetting properties of the fibers, transforming them from oil- and water-absorbing to water-absorbing and oil-proof. In particular, two diverse layers of polymeric coatings, paraffin wax and poly(dimethylsiloxane)-b-poly(ethylene oxide) (PDMS-b-PEO) diblock copolymer, are applied on the surface of each individual fiber by a two-step dip adsorption process. The resulting cellulose networks exhibit superhydrophilicity and underwater superoleophobicity and they are mechanically reinforced. Therefore, the described treatment makes cellulose fiber networks excellent candidates for the filtration and subsequent removal of oil from oil-in-water non-stabilized emulsions with oil separation efficiency up to 99%. The good selectivity, reproducibility, and cost effectiveness of the preparation process leads to the production of low cost filters that can be used in oil–water separation applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: cellulose; emulsions; oil–water separation; hydrophilicity; underwater superoleophobicity cellulose; emulsions; oil–water separation; hydrophilicity; underwater superoleophobicity
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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. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Paul, U.C.; Fragouli, D.; Bayer, I.S.; Athanassiou, A. Functionalized Cellulose Networks for Efficient Oil Removal from Oil–Water Emulsions. Polymers 2016, 8, 52.

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