2,3,6-Tricarboxylate Cellulose as a Fully Biodegradable Flocculant: Efficient Synthesis and Flocculation Performance

Kexin Chen, Weijun Lv, Wei Chen, Yifeng Wang, Yong Zhang, Xiumei Zhang, Juming Yao


Cellulose-based flocculants have shown excellent performance for wastewater flocculation, being low-cost and eco-friendly. However, they are still disturbed by the problems of incomplete biodegradability and unstable chemical structure. In the present study, 2,3,6-tricarboxylate cellulose (TCC) was developed as a novel fully biodegradable flocculant to deal with the preceding problems. The key carboxymethylation of cellulose was first carried out to make the subsequent NaIO4 oxidation occur under homogeneous conditions, which greatly enhanced the carboxylate content of the final TCC products. The chemical structure and solution properties of the TCCs were characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffractometer system (XRD), field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), charge density, particle size, and zeta potential. The flocculation performance of the TCCs was evaluated preliminarily by the turbidity removal of kaolin suspension. The positive results showed that all the TCC products had high carboxylate contents (more than 10 mmol/g) and zeta potentials. They exhibited excellent flocculation performance for the kaolin suspensions, in which the residual turbidities decreased from 610 to 14.9 NTU. Considering the degradation of cellulose caused by excessive NaIO4 oxidation, the TCC IV, together with its synthesis technology, could be used for practical applications in wastewater flocculation.


Tricarboxylate cellulose; Natural flocculant; Homogeneous oxidation; Carboxylate content; Full-biodegradation

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