Mechanical properties of cellulose aerogels and cryogels†
Highly porous and lightweight cellulose materials were prepared via dissolution–coagulation and different drying routes. Cellulose of three different molecular weights was dissolved in an ionic liquid/dimethyl sulfoxide mixture. Drying was performed either with supercritical CO2 resulting in “aerogels”, or via freeze-drying resulting in “cryogels”. The influence of cellulose molecular weight, concentration and drying method on the morphology, density, porosity and specific surface area was determined. The mechanical properties of cellulose cryogels and aerogels under uniaxial compression were studied in detail and analyzed in the view of existing models developed for porous materials. It was demonstrated that the Poisson's ratio of cellulose aerogels is not equal to zero, contrary to what is usually reported in the literature, but decreases with an increase in density. Compressive modulus and yield stress of cryogels turned out to be higher than those of aerogels taken at the same density. This was interpreted by the different morphology of the porous materials studied.