Quaternized (QC) and cross-linked/quaternized (CQC) cellulose hydrogels were prepared by cross-linking native cellulose with epichlorohydrin (ECH), with subsequent grafting of glycidyl trimethyl ammonium chloride (GTMAC). Materials characterization via carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen (CHN) analysis, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR)/13
C solid state NMR spectroscopy provided supportive evidence of the hydrogel synthesis. Enhanced thermal stability of the hydrogels was observed relative to native cellulose. Colloidal stability of octanol and water mixtures revealed that QC induces greater stabilization over CQC, as evidenced by the formation of a hexane–water Pickering emulsion system. Equilibrium sorption studies with naphthenates from oil sands process water (OSPW) and 2-naphthoxy acetic acid (NAA) in aqueous solution revealed that CQC possess higher affinity relative to QC with the naphthenates. According to the Langmuir isotherm model, the sorption capacity of CQC for OSPW naphthenates was 33.0 mg/g and NAA was 69.5 mg/g. CQC displays similar affinity for the various OSPW naphthenate component species in aqueous solution. Kinetic uptake of NAA at variable temperature, pH and adsorbent dosage showed that increased temperature favoured the uptake process at 303 K, where Qm
= 76.7 mg/g. Solution conditions at pH 3 or 9 had a minor effect on the sorption process, while equilibrium was achieved in a shorter time at lower dosage (ca. three-fold lower) of hydrogel (100 mg vs. 30 mg). The estimated activation parameters are based on temperature dependent rate constants, k1
, which reveal contributions from enthalpy-driven electrostatic interactions. The kinetic results indicate an ion-based associative sorption mechanism. This study contributes to a greater understanding of the adsorption and physicochemical properties of cellulose-based hydrogels.
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