Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 4137–4145 | Cite as

Evaluation of polypropylene and poly (butylmethacrylate-co-hydroxyethylmethacrylate) nonwoven material as oil absorbent

  • Jian Zhao
  • Changfa XiaoEmail author
  • Naiku Xu
Research Article


Polypropylene (PP) and poly(butylmethacrylate-co-hydroxyethylmethacrylate) (PBMA-co-HEMA) nonwoven materials as oil absorbents have been fabricated for the first time via melt blown method. As-prepared nonwovens were investigated in terms of mass per unit area, density, air permeability, contact angle, and morphology observations for fiber diameter distribution and single fiber surface by a field emission scanning electron microscope. The nonwovens are demonstrated as fast and efficient absorbents for various kinds of oils with oil absorbency up to seven to ten times their own weight. The nonwovens show excellent water repulsion but superoleophilic properties. The measured contact angles for water and toluene are more than 127° and ca. 0°, respectively. The addition of PBMA-co-HEMA makes the nonwoven surface more hydrophobic while conserving superoleophilicity. Compared with PP nonwoven, broad diameter distribution of the blend nonwoven is attributed to poor melt fluidity of PBMA-co-HEMA. In terms of single fiber, coarse surface and the presence of point-like convexities lead to the fibers being more readily wetted by oil. More interesting, oil–water separation and oil recovery can be easily carried out by filter and absorption–desorption process, the recovered materials contained hardly any oil droplet and could be reused for next cycles.


Polypropylene Melt blown nonwoven Oil absorbency Oil recovery Oil–water separation Oil spill 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos.: 50673077 and 51103099). Our work was also supported by Handan Hengyong Protective & Clean Products Co., Ltd., Hebei Province, P.R. China.

Supplementary material


The nonwoven as a filter, facilitating a simple separation to oil–water mixture. (MPG 31273 kb)


The video shows a dynamic evolution of water drop on as-prepared nonwoven surface. (MPG 38692 kb)


The video shows a rapid evolution of toluene drop on as-prepared nonwoven surface. (MPG 47252 kb)

11356_2012_1397_Fig12_ESM.jpg (61 kb)

(JPEG 61 kb)

11356_2012_1397_MOESM4_ESM.tif (3.1 mb)
High resolution image (TIFF 3188 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of TextileTianjin Polytechnic UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Materials Science and EngineeringTianjin Polytechnic UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China

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