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Hydrogel composites containing nanocellulose as adsorbents for aqueous removal of heavy metals: design, optimization, and application

  • Francisco H. A. Rodrigues
  • Carlos E. de C. Magalhães
  • Aline L. Medina
  • André R. FajardoEmail author
Original Research


In this study, hydrogel composites based on chitosan-g-poly(acrylic acid) matrices filled with cellulose nanowhiskers (CNWs) were prepared, and their ability to adsorb Pb(II) and Cu(II) ions from the water was investigated. A factorial design approach was performed to examine the effect of some selected parameters on the adsorption process. The optimized conditions revealed that the highest adsorption of Pb(II) (818.4 mg/g) and Cu(II) (325.5 mg/g) is obtained within 30 min, at pH 4.0, using 20 mg of the hydrogel composite containing 10 w/w-% of CNWs. As assessed, functional groups available in the hydrogel matrix and CNWs act as coordination sites for the adsorption. The Langmuir type I isotherm fitted the experimental adsorption data indicating monolayer formation drive the adsorption process. The maximum adsorption capacity of the hydrogel composite prepared in this study concerning the two selected metals was comparable or better than those reported to other similar adsorbent materials. Also, adsorption kinetics followed the pseudo-second-order model. Desorption studies indicate that the post-utilized hydrogel composite can be regenerated and reused again in new adsorption processes without a dramatic loss of efficiency. The results presented here shed light on some essential aspects related to the design and application of hydrogel composites containing nanocellulose in the adsorption process. Moreover, these findings may be helpful to obtain adsorbent materials for practical applications.


Cellulose nanowhiskers Hydrogel composites Adsorption Heavy metals Factorial design Environmental remediation 



The authors thank CNPq for their financial support (Universal Grant.—Process 404744/2018-4). CNPq is also acknowledged for the fellowship to A.R.F. (Process 305974/2016-5). FUNCAP is also recognized for the fellowship to F.H.A.R. (Grant. BP3-0139.00257.01.00/18).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest


Supplementary material

10570_2019_2736_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3440 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Ciências Exatas e TecnologiaUniversidade Estadual Vale do Acaraú (UVA)SobralBrazil
  2. 2.Centro de Ciências e TecnologiaUniversidade Estadual do Ceará (UECE)FortalezaBrazil
  3. 3.Universidade Federal do Pampa (UNIPAMPA)ItaquiBrazil
  4. 4.Centro de Ciências Químicas, Farmacêuticas e de AlimentosUniversidade Federal de Pelotas (UFPel)PelotasBrazil

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