, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 3067–3078 | Cite as

Superhydrophobic, ultralight and flexible biomass carbon aerogels derived from sisal fibers for highly efficient oil–water separation

  • Yu Liu
  • Yinxian PengEmail author
  • Tao ZhangEmail author
  • Fengxian Qiu
  • Dengsen Yuan
Original Paper


With the massive discharge of industrial oily wastewater and the frequent occurrence of oil spills at sea in recent years, the fabrication of superhydrophobic and durable oil-absorbing materials is urgently required for oil recovery and disposal of oily water in practical applications. In this paper, ultralight, elastic, superhydrophobic and durable carbon fiber aerogels (CFAs) derived from sisal leaves were prepared via simple alkalization, bleaching, freeze-drying and carbonization. The prepared CFAs were characterized using X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, N2 adsorption–desorption, contact angle measurement and scanning electron microscopy. The as-prepared CFAs with 3D porous architectures and excellent flexibility under compression were found to be effective oil absorption material for various oils and organic solvents. Textural analyses showed that the CFAs consist of fiber morphologies with high porosity originating from vacancies between individual fibers. The nitrogen sorption analysis confirmed that the material is mesoporous with average pore diameter of 3.03 nm and Brunauer–Emmett–Teller surface area of 399.85 m2/g. The contact angle measurements revealed that CFAs show both superoleophilic and superhydrophobic properties simultaneously with an oil contact angle of 0° and a static water contact angle of 153 ± 1°, thus the aerogels possessed a good oil–water separation ability. Furthermore, the CFAs exhibited a superior absorption capacity in the range from 90 to 188 times of their own weight for different organic solvents and oils. After recycling 10 times, the CFAs still exhibit excellent oils absorption properties, as well as exhibit excellent stability under harsh conditions, showing that the CFAs has excellent reusability performance. This work provides a green strategy to utilize low-cost biomass as raw materials to fabricate superhydrophobic CFAs as an oil absorbent, which has great potential in application of disposal of oily water and environmental protection.


Biomass Carbon fiber aerogels Sisal Oil absorption Superhydrophobic 



We thank the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20160500, BK20161362 and BK20161264) and National Nature Science Foundation of China (21706100 and U1507115) for financial support. This study was also financially supported by the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016M600373 and 2016M601747), High-Level Personnel Training Project of Jiangsu Province (BRA2016142), Key Research and Development Program of Jiangxi Province (20071BBH80008), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (1601016A, 1701073C and 1701067C) and Scientific Research Foundation for Advanced Talents, Jiangsu University (15JDG142). The authors also thank Dr. Sheng Tang from Jiangsu University of Science and Technology for revising the manuscript.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (AVI 19882 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (AVI 14840 kb)

Supplementary material 3 (AVI 8016 kb)

Supplementary material 4 (AVI 45083 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental and Chemical EngineeringJiangsu University of Science and TechnologyZhenjiangChina
  2. 2.School of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringJiangsu UniversityZhenjiangChina

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