, Volume 26, Issue 16, pp 8685–8697 | Cite as

Evaluation and potential application of novel cellulose nanofibril and lignin-based-graphite functionalized flexible polyurethane foam

  • Weiqi LengEmail author
  • Shengcheng Zhai
  • Biao PanEmail author
Original Research


Recently, cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) and lignin-based graphite have been explored due to their biodegradability and biocompatibility. In this study, CNFs and lignin-based graphite were used to partially replace petroleum-based polyols and fabricate novel flexible polyurethane foam (Flex-PUF) composite. The impacts of CNFs and graphite on the physical, thermal, and structural properties of Flex-PUF were systematically evaluated. Compared to graphite, the addition of CNFs had less influence on the thermal stability of Flex-PUF. The differential scanning calorimetry results revealed that replacing polyols with CNFs did not significantly change the decomposition temperature of the urea bond. However, adding 40% of graphite increased the decomposition temperature to 310 °C, while further adding graphite to 50% decreased the decomposition temperature to 240 °C. Nitrogen adsorption isotherm confirmed that the specific surface area of the foam first decreased to 99 m2/g and then increased to 175 m2/g with the increase of CNFs from 10 to 30%. However, there was an opposite trend with the respect of graphite. The specific surface area of the foam first increased to 262 m2/g and then abruptly decreased to 107 m2/g with the increase of graphite content. Water contact angle test revealed good hydrophobicity for all foam samples. Finally, promising crude oil/water separation performance was demonstrated by Flex-PUF sample functionalized with both CNFs and graphite, with fresh water passing through the foam sample, while the crude oil being held steady in the foam.

Graphic abstract


Cellulose nanofibrils Graphene Flexible polyurethane foam Contact angle Specific surface area Oil/water separation 



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support by the National Nature Science Foundation (31400496), Jiangsu Provincial Nature Science Foundation (BK20140981), and NJFU start-up funding (163020128).

Author contributions

Weiqi Leng contributed to the overall process of the experiment design, characterization, data analysis, and the manuscript drafting. Shengcheng Zhai helped run the SEM experiment and reviewed the draft. Biao Pan supervised the whole project, reviewed the draft, and made comments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10570_2019_2700_MOESM1_ESM.docx (75 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 75 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Materials Science and EngineeringNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina

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