, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 367–382 | Cite as

Hydrophobic cellulose nanopaper through a mild esterification procedure

  • Houssine SehaquiEmail author
  • Tanja Zimmermann
  • Philippe Tingaut
Original Paper


Films of cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) (referred to as nanopaper) present a great potential in many applications due to the abundance, low environmental impact, excellent oxygen barrier properties and good mechanical performance of CNF. However, the strong hygroscopic character of the natural nanofibers limits their use in environments with high relative humidity. In this paper, we introduce a simple route for the esterification and processing of CNF with the aim of reducing their hydrophilicity, and producing hydrophobic cellulose nanopaper with reduced moisture sensitivity. The preparation steps of hydrophobic nanopapers involve vacuum filtration, solvent exchange from water to acetone, and reaction with anhydride molecules bearing different hydrophobic alkyl chains by hot pressing. Porous films having a surface area between 38 and 47 g/m2 and pore sizes in the 3–200 nm range are obtained. This method preserves the crystalline structure of native cellulose, and successfully introduces hydrophobic moieties on CNF surface as confirmed by FTIR, XPS and elemental analysis. As a result, modified nanopapers have a reduced moisture uptake, both higher surface water contact angle and wet tensile properties as compared with reference non-modified nanopaper, thus illustrating the benefit of the modification for the use of cellulose nanopaper in humid environments.


Cellulose nanofibrils CNF Esterification Hydrophobic Nanopaper Mechanical properties 



Esther Strub, Anja Huch, Roland Hauert and Beatrice Fischer from EMPA institute are thanked for their support with SEM, contact angle, XPS and FTIR, respectively. Mr. Michael Schneider from ETH-Mikrolabor is thanked for performing elemental analysis. Markus Rueggeberg from ETH/EMPA is thanked for introduction to tensile test equipment.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (AVI 1681 kb)

10570_2013_110_MOESM2_ESM.doc (164 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 164 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Houssine Sehaqui
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tanja Zimmermann
    • 1
  • Philippe Tingaut
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Wood Materials LaboratoryEmpa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and TechnologyDübendorfSwitzerland

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