Microfibrillated cellulose and nanocellulose materials remove a number of hazardous substances from water simultaneously

Microfibrillated cellulose and nanocellulose based materials can remove several hazardous substances from water simultaneously. According to a study carried out at the Laboratory of Green Chemistry at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), microfibrillated cellulose and nanocellulose based adsorption materials may in the future be competitive alternatives to current purification methods.

The study conducted in Mikkeli demonstrated that the nanocellulose based composite material in question is able to efficiently and simultaneously remove hazardous heavy metals, such as nickel, copper and cadmium, and nutrients, such as phosphates and nitrates. Up to 98 per cent of chromium was removed from a water solution. Positive results have also been achieved in the removal of sulphates and surfactants used in cosmetics.

According to Researcher Sanna Hokkanen, the material's ability to simultaneously remove different impurities, high removal efficiency and environmental friendliness make it a competitive alternative to current methods.

The Laboratory of Green Chemistry has researched the ability of a hydroxylapatite-nanocellulose composite to remove hazardous substances from water. Hydroxylapatite is a calcium phosphate compound and the most important mineral salt in e.g. bones and teeth. Thus, the produced material does not contain substances harmful to the environment and its manufacture is simple, requiring very few harmful or costly chemicals.

Finland is a leading country in the forest industry sector. In addition to traditional paper and wood production, researchers also develop completely new forest industry based products. In recent years, Finland as well as the rest of the world have shown increasing interest in microcellulose and nanocellulose, their manufacture, developing their characteristics and finding new uses for them.

The availability of clean water is a global challenge which will keep growing in the near future. The demand for water resources will draw attention and will require solutions to increase water efficiency and the recycling of water that can be applied to the water consumption of communities and industries. Green chemistry plays a central role in the development of new solutions for the recycling and more efficient use of water.

Further information

Mika Sillanpää, Professor, mika.sillanpaa@lut.fi, tel. +358 40 020 5215
Sanna Hokkanen, Researcher, sanna.hokkanen@lut.fi, tel. +358 400 894 011