Water hardness not only constitutes a significant hazard for the functionality of water infrastructure but is also associated with health concerns. Commonly, water hardness is tackled with synthetic ion-exchange resins or membranes that have the drawbacks of requiring the awkward disposal of saturated materials and being based on fossil resources. In this work, we present a renewable nanopaper for the purpose of water softening prepared from phosphorylated TEMPO-oxidized cellulose nanofibrils (PT-CNF). Nanopapers were prepared from CNF suspensions in water (PT-CNF nanopapers) or low surface tension organic liquids (ethanol), named EPT-CNF nanopapers, respectively. Nanopaper preparation from ethanol resulted in a significantly increased porosity of the nanopapers enabling much higher permeances: more than 10,000× higher as compared to nanopapers from aqueous suspensions. The adsorption capacity for Ca2+
of nanopapers from aqueous suspensions was 17 mg g−1
and 5 mg g−1
; however, EPT-CNF nanopapers adsorbed more than 90 mg g−1
and almost 70 mg g−1
. The higher adsorption capacity was a result of the increased accessibility of functional groups in the bulk of the nanopapers caused by the higher porosity of nanopapers prepared from ethanol. The combination of very high permeance and adsorption capacity constitutes a high overall performance of these nanopapers in water softening applications.
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