Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 156–165 | Cite as

Influence of hierarchical porous structures on the mechanical properties of cellulose aerogels

  • Kathirvel GanesanEmail author
  • Adam Barowski
  • Lorenz Ratke
  • Barbara Milow
Original Paper: Nano- and macroporous materials (aerogels, xerogels, cryogels, etc.)


Aerogels of cellulose exhibit remarkable mechanical properties as a function of density. Modifying the pore volume in classical cellulose aerogels using sacrificial template methods provide scaffold like microstructure. In the present study, we have developed aerogels of cellulose scaffolds having almost same density values but differ in microstructure and analysed the influence on the mechanical properties of bulk materials. This study can give an insight into the materials design for advanced engineering materials. Employing four surfactants having difference in hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB), namely polyoxyethylene tert-octylphenyl ether (PT), polyoxyethylene (20) oleyl ether (PO), polyoxyethylene (40) nonylphenyl ether (PN) and polyoxyethylene (100) stearyl ether (PS), the cellulose scaffolds with hierarchical porous structures were developed. The mechanical properties of cellulose scaffolds were compared with classical pure cellulose aerogels. The results indicate that the solid fraction of cellulose nanofibers per unit volume of cell walls of scaffolds plays an important role in determining the elastic properties and strength. As the nanofibrils support the cell walls of scaffolds, Young’s modulus can be improved if the concentration of cellulose nanofibers is high at the cell walls or cell wall thickness is larger. The scaffold materials of this kind could be used as supporting materials with desired properties for filter, catalysis and biomedicine.


  • The aerogels of cellulose scaffolds with hierarchical porous structures were developed.

  • The hierarchical porous structures were designed by using four different surfactants.

  • The entrapped oil droplets in the cellulose matrix act as a structural template.

  • The solid fraction per unit volume of cell walls of scaffolds influences the mechanical property.

  • The structural design of pore channels play major role in defining the elastic property.


Cellulose Aerogel Scaffolds Hierarchical structure Porous network 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10971_2018_4828_MOESM1_ESM.docx (110 kb)
Supplementary information


  1. 1.
    Wang S, Lu A, Zhang L (2016) Recent advances in regenerated cellulose materials. Prog Polym Sci 53:169–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ratke L (2011) Monoliths and fibrous cellulose aerogels. In: Aegerter MA, Leventis N, Koebel MM (eds) Aerogels Handbook. Advances in Sol-Gel Derived Materials and Technologies. Springer, New York, p 173Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Budtova T, Navard P (2016) Cellulose in NaOH-water based solvents: a review. Cellulose 23:5–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cai J, Kimura S, Wada M, Kuga S, Zhang L (2008) Cellulose aerogels from aqueous alkali hydroxide–urea solution. ChemSusChem 1:149–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wan C, Lu Y, Jiao Y, Cao J, Sun Q, Li J (2015) Cellulose aerogels from cellulose–NaOH/PEG solution and comparison with different cellulose contents. Mater Sci Technol 31(9):1096–1102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Rege A, Schestakow M, Karadagli I, Ratke L, Itskov M (2016) Micro-mechanical modelling of cellulose aerogels from molten salt hydrates. Soft Matter 12:7079–7088CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Schestakow M, Karadagli I, Ratke L (2016) Cellulose aerogels prepared from an aqueous zinc chloride salthydrate melt. Carbohydr Polym 137:642–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hoepfner S, Ratke L, Milow B (2008) Synthesis and characterisation of nanofibrillar cellulose aerogels. Cellulose 15:121–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jin H, Nishiyama Y, Wada M, Kuga S (2004) Nanofibrillar cellulose aerogels. Colloids Surf A: Physicochem Eng Asp 240:63–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Buchtová N, Budtova T (2016) Cellulose aero-, cryo- and xerogels: towards understanding of morphology control. Cellulose 23(4):2585–2595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Pääkkö M, Vapaavuori J, Silvennoinen R, Kosonen H, Ankerfors M, Lindström T, Berglund LA, Ikkala O (2008) Long and entangled native cellulose I nanofibers allow flexible aerogels and hierarchically porous templates for functionalities. Soft Matter 4:2492–2499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Li VC-F, Dunn CK, Zhang Z, Deng Y, Qi HJ (2017) Direct Ink Write (DIW) 3D printed cellulose nanocrystal aerogel structures. Sci Rep 7(1):8018CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Pircher N, Fischhuber D, Carbajal L, Strau C, Nedelec J-M, Kasper C, Rosenau T, Liebner F (2015) Preparation and reinforcement of dual-porous biocompatible cellulose scaffolds for tissue engineering. Macromol Mater Eng 300:911–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ganesan K, Dennstedt A, Barowski A, Ratke L (2016) Design of aerogels, cryogels and xerogels of cellulose with hierarchical porous structures. Mater Des 92:345–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Deng M, Zhou Q, Du A, van Kasteren J, Wang Y (2009) Preparation of nanoporous cellulose foams from cellulose-ionic liquid solutions. Mater Lett 63(21):1851–1854CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Svagan AJ, Jensen P, Dvinskikh SV, Furó I, Berglund LA (2010) Towards tailored hierarchical structures in cellulose nanocomposite biofoams prepared by freezing/freeze-drying. J Mater Chem 20:6646–6654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gibson LJ, Ashby MF (1997) Cellular solids: structure and properties. Second edn. Cambridge University Press, United KingdomGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Insitute of Materials ResearchGerman Aerospace CenterCologneGermany

Personalised recommendations