Nanocomposite Foam Involving Boron Nitride Nanoplatelets and Polycaprolactone: Porous Structures with Multiple Length Scales for Oil Spill Cleanup

Li Hao†‡ , I-Cheng Chen‡, Jun Kyun Oh‡, Nirup Nagabandi‡, Felipe Bassan‡, Shuhao Liu§, Ethan Scholar‡, Luhong Zhang† , Mustafa Akbulut*‡§∥ , and Bin Jiang*†

School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China

Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3122, United States

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3003, United States

Texas A&M Energy Institute, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-3372, United States

Abstract

Herein, we report a facile approach to fabricate highly porous nanocomposites made from polycaprolactone (PCL) and boron nitride (BN) nanoplatelets using coprecipitation mixing and supercritical CO2 drying. The presence of boron nitride nanoplatelets in polycaprolactone matrix enhanced the porosity of polycaprolactone foams and also improved the interfacial compatibility with oils and nonpolar organic solvents. Through a synergistic combination of surface morphology and interfacial tension effect, PCL:BNNP foams achieved a high hydrophobicity with a contact angle of 135° while being strongly oleophilic with a near zero contact angle for oils and nonpolar organic solvents. The absorption capacity was 6.1, 5.8, 4.3, 3.7, and 3.4 for paraffin oil, silicone oil, corn oil, hexadecane, and n-hexane, respectively. Additionally, the nanocomposite foam also demonstrated promising reusability and oil stability. Overall, this study offers a novel and facile strategy for fabricating porous nanocomposite materials with a strong potential in the applications of environmental remediation.

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