Promoted hydrogel formation of lignin-containing arabinoxylan aerogel using cellulose nanofibers as a functional biomaterial†
In this work, three-dimensional (3D) aerogels and hydrogels based on lignin-containing arabinoxylan (AX) and cellulose nanofibers (CNF) were prepared. The effects of the CNF and the crosslinking with citric acid (CA) of various contents (1, 3, 5 wt%) were evaluated. All the aerogels possessed highly porous (above 98%) and lightweight structures. The AX-CNF hydrogel with a CA content of 1 wt% revealed a favorable network structure with respect to the swelling ratio; nanofiber addition resulted in a five-fold increase in the degree of swelling (68 g of water per g). The compressive properties were improved when the higher CA content (5 wt%) was used; when combined with CNF, there was a seven-fold enhancement in the compressive strength. The AX-CNF hydrogels were prepared using a green and straightforward method that utilizes sustainable resources efficiently. Therefore, such natural hydrogels could find application potential, for example in the field of soft tissue engineering.