New environmental cleanup technologies to use cellulose nanomaterials

Nanomaterials made of cellulose – a natural polymer used mainly to produce paper – hold great promise in environmental remediation applications and water filtration membranes, according to Duke University Superfund Research Program (Duke SRP) researchers.

In a compilation of research findings, Duke SRP researchers led by Mark Wiesner, Ph.D., outline the physical and chemical properties, production costs, and current use of cellulose nanomaterials.

A photo illustrating the benefits of cellulose nanomterials. Nanomaterials can be used in environmental remediation and filtration membranes. They are also a renewable resource and have a low environmental impact.

Cellulose, the most abundant organic polymer on earth, is an important structural component of plants. As analytical instrumentation has improved, scientists have discovered naturally occurring nanoscale cellulose structures that range in size from nanometers to microns and demonstrate strength properties comparable to Kevlar.

According to the authors, cellulose nanomaterials represent a new class of sustainable materials with recognized potential in improving paper and packaging as well as the automotive, construction, personal care, and textile industries.

The use of cellulose nanomaterials in environmental engineering applications is much less explored but has great untapped potential for water treatment and remediation technologies.

See full article + download link for report.

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