Enhancing adsorption of heavy metal ions onto biobased nanofibers from waste pulp residues for application in wastewater treatment

Sehaqui, Houssine ; de Larraya, Uxua ; Liu, Peng ; Pfenninger, Numa ; Mathew, Aji ; Zimmermann, Tanja ; Tingaut, Philippe

In: Cellulose, 2014, vol. 21, no. 4, p. 2831-2844

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    Biobased nanofibers are increasingly considered in purification technologies due to their high mechanical properties, high specific surface area, versatile surface chemistry and natural abundance. In this work, cellulose and chitin nanofibers functionalized with carboxylate entities have been prepared from pulp residue (i.e., a waste product from the pulp and paper production) and crab shells, respectively, by chemically modifying the initial raw materials with the 2,2,6,6-tetramethyl-1-piperidinyloxy (TEMPO) mediated oxidation reaction followed by mechanical disintegration. A thorough investigation has first been carried out in order to evaluate the copper(II) adsorption capacity of the oxidized nanofibers. UV spectrophotometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and wavelength dispersive X-rays analysis have been employed as characterization tools for this purpose. Pristine nanofibers presented a relatively low content of negative charges on their surface thus adsorbing a low amount of copper(II). The copper adsorption capacity of the nanofibers was enhanced due to the oxidation treatment since the carboxylate groups introduced on the nanofibers surface constituted negative sites for electrostatic attraction of copper ions (Cu2+). The increase in copper adsorption on the nanofibers correlated both with the pH and carboxylate content and reached maximum values of 135 and 55mgg−1 for highly oxidized cellulose and chitin nanofibers, respectively. Furthermore, the metal ions could be easily removed from the contaminated nanofibers through a washing procedure in acidic water. Finally, the adsorption capacity of oxidized cellulose nanofibers for other metal ions, such as nickel(II), chromium(III) and zinc(II), was also demonstrated. We conclude that TEMPO oxidized biobased nanofibers from waste resources represent an inexpensive and efficient alternative to classical sorbents for heavy metal ions removal from contaminated water.