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Ionic cross-linking of cellulose nanofibers: an approach to enhance mechanical stability for dynamic adsorption


Herein, we attempt to improve the mechanical stability of anionic functionalized cellulose nanofibers (a-CNF) having 1.25 mmol of carboxymethyl groups per gram of cellulose nanofibers (CNF). The a-CNF and cross-linked a-CNF (za-CNF) then used for water desalination in the continuous mode using a tubular adsorption column. It is worth mentioning that the za-CNF possess 40% degree of cross-linking provided better mechanical stability as the tensile strength improved from 3.2 to 5.2 MPa over a-CNF. The IR spectroscopy was used to confirm the success of chemical modifications. Upon ionic cross-linking, the BET surface area reduced from 13.53 to 7.54 m2·g−1 corresponds to a-CNF and za-CNF, respectively. Moreover, this research was extended to determine the dynamic adsorption capacities for a-CNF and za-CNF, which were found to be 21 and 10 mg·g−1 respectively at a flow rate of 5-mL·min−1 explained by Thomas model.

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Cellulose acetate nanofibers


Cellulose nanofibers


Anionic functionalized cellulose nanofibers


Ionic cross-linked a-CNF


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Authors are thankful to US–Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water, Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro. We are also thankful to the University of Utah, USA, for technical assistance.

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Correspondence to Rasool Bux Mahar or Zeeshan Khatri.

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Muqeet, M., Qureshi, U.A., Mahar, R.B. et al. Ionic cross-linking of cellulose nanofibers: an approach to enhance mechanical stability for dynamic adsorption. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 28842–28851 (2019).

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  • Biomaterials
  • Dynamic adsorption
  • Cellulose nanofiber
  • Mechanical property
  • Ionic cross-link