Nanocellulose is an interesting material with unique properties and chemistry. Cellulose, the structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants, is the most abundant organic material on the planet and because of its useful materials properties it is one of the most widely used substances. Given the needs for replacing our reliance on petroleum as the primary source for polymeric materials, the development of advanced materials based on abundant cellulose nanomaterials as a feedstock in future products will reduce our reliance on politically and ecologically challenged materials and boost US-based agriculture and biomass production.
The use of a plentiful, cheap, sustainable and potentially recyclable feedstock for the preparation of active functional materials is truly transformational in that it opens up new fields and leads to job creation and retention. The cellulose nanomaterials developed by our group increase function, widen processing options, and will give rise to new ways to utilize this important nanomaterial. We have worked to exploit these characteristics to develop new functional thin films and aerogels.
In our research, transparent, robust nanocellulose thin films were prepared with outstanding anti-fogging properties. Most recently, we have used nanocellulose to prepare aerogel/foam materials using a new fabrication method. The aerogels are mechanically stable and robust. Our new aerogel fabrication process obviates the need to use freeze-drying or low pressure solvent removal.
We will present data on new nanocellulose aerogels with densities ranging from 5-100 mg/cm3. We have recently exploited recent discoveries from our labs that utilize nanocellulose aerogels functionalized with selected amino acids and peptides that endow extraordinary CO2 capture capacity.
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