, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 435–447 | Cite as

Ultralight carbon aerogel from nanocellulose as a highly selective oil absorption material

  • Yujie Meng
  • Timothy M. Young
  • Peizhi Liu
  • Cristian I. Contescu
  • Biao Huang
  • Siqun WangEmail author
Original Paper


The synthesis of a sponge-like carbon aerogel from microfibril cellulose, with high porosity (99 %), ultra-low density (0.01 g/cm3), hydrophobic properties (149° static contact angle) and reusability is reported in this paper. The physical properties, internal morphology, thermal properties, and chemical properties of carbon aerogels heat-treated at 700 and 900 °C (Samples C-700 and C-900) were examined. Stabilization and carbonization parameters were optimized in terms of residual carbon yield. The BET surface area of Sample C-700 (521 m2/g) was significantly higher than of Sample C-950 (145 m2/g). Graphitic-like domains were observed in C-950. The highest normalized sorption capacity (86 g/g) for paraffin oil was observed in sample C-700. The removal of hydrophilic function groups during carbonization causes carbon aerogel to present highly hydrophobic properties. Carbon aerogel’s ability to absorb oil is enhanced by its highly porous 3D network structure with interconnected cellulose nanofibrils.


Nanocellulose Carbon aerogel Oil absorption 3D network structure 



The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the UTIA 2013 Innovation Grant and the US Forest Service Southern Research Station under contract agreement 07-CR-11330115-087, Southeastern Sun Grant Center. CIC acknowledges support for materials characterization from the US Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Science and Technology Division.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yujie Meng
    • 1
  • Timothy M. Young
    • 1
  • Peizhi Liu
    • 2
  • Cristian I. Contescu
    • 3
  • Biao Huang
    • 1
    • 4
  • Siqun Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, Center for Renewable CarbonUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  3. 3.Oak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  4. 4.College of EngineeringFujian Agriculture and Forestry UniversityFuzhouChina

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