Surface quaternized cellulose nanofibrils with high water absorbency and adsorption capacity for anionic dyes
Surface quaternized cellulose nanofibrils were mechanically disintegrated from wood pulp that was pretreated through a reaction with glycidyltrimethylammonium chloride. The resulting quaternized cellulose nanofibrils (Q-NFC) with trimethylammonium chloride contents of 0.59–2.31 mmol g−1 were characterized by conductometric titration, X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), field emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). When the trimethylammonium chloride content on cellulose reached approximately 0.79 mmol g−1 corresponding to a degree of substitution of 0.13 per bulk anhydroglucose unit, highly viscous and transparent aqueous dispersions of cellulose nanofibrils were obtained by mechanical homogenization of the chemically pretreated cellulose/water slurries. AFM observation showed that the dispersions consisted of individualized cellulose I nanofibrils 1.6–2.1 nm in width and 1.3–2.0 μm in length. Cellulose nanopapers prepared from the Q-NFC aqueous dispersions exhibited high tensile strength (ca. 200 MPa) and Young's modulus (ca. 10 GPa) despite high porosity (37–48%). The nanopapers also demonstrated ultrahigh water absorbency (750 g g−1) with high surface cationic charge density. Stable hydrogels were obtained after swelling the nanopaper in water. The Q-NFC nanofibrils also possessed high anionic dye adsorption capability. The adsorption capacity increased with increasing trimethylammonium chloride content on cellulose.