Superhydrophobic, hybrid, electrospun cellulose acetate nanofibrous mats for oil/water separation by tailored surface modification
Electrospun cellulose acetate nanofibers (CA-NF) have been modified with perfluoro alkoxysilanes (FS/CA-NF) for tailoring their chemical and physical features aiming oil-water separation purposes. Strikingly, hybrid FS/CA-NF showed that perfluoro groups are rigidly positioned on the outer surface of the nanofibers providing superhydrophobic characteristic with a water contact angle of ∼155°. Detailed analysis showed that hydrolysis/condensation reactions led to the modification of the acetylated β(1 → 4) linked d-glucose chains of CA transforming it into a superhydrophobic nanofibrous mat. Analytical data have revealed that CA-NF surfaces can be selectively controlled for fabricating the durable, robust and water resistant hybrid electrospun nanofibrous mat. The -OH groups available on the CA structure allowed the basic sol-gel reactions started by the reactive FS hybrid precursor system which can be monitored by spectroscopic analysis. Since alkoxysilane groups on the perfluoro silane compound are capable of reacting for condensation together with the CA, superhydrophobic nanofibrous mat is obtained via electrospinning. This structural modification led to the facile fabrication of the novel oil/water nanofibrous separator which functions effectively demonstrated by hexane/oil and water separation experiments. Perfluoro groups consequently modified the hydrophilic CA nanofibers into superhydrophobic character and therefore FS/CA-NF could be quite practical for future applications like water/oil separators, as well as self-cleaning or water resistant nanofibrous structures.