PLA coating improves the performance of renewable adsorbent pads based on cellulosic aerogels from aquatic waste biomass

Lightweight, hydrophobic, adsorbent pads based on aerogels from different cellulosic and nanocellulosic fractions extracted from Posidonia oceanica waste biomass were developed by a simple freeze-drying and PLA dipping method. The pure (nano)cellulosic aerogels presented highly porous structures, capable of adsorbing large amounts of oil (up to ~34 g oil/g aerogel); however, they lost their integrity when soaked in water. The incorporation of PLA hydrophobized the aerogels and improved significantly their mechanical performance (up to 10-fold increase in the compression stress). The most porous aerogel structures, obtained with the lowest (nano) cellulosic concentrations and with the less purified fractions, incorporated greater amounts of PLA upon dipping, which was mostly distributed filling in the pores. All the PLA-coated (nano)cellulosic aerogels presented a hydrophobic behaviour, with contact angles of 95–130° and selectively adsorbing greater amounts of oil (5.9–9.2 g oil/g aerogel) than water (2.8–6.7 g H2O/g aerogel). These materials present a great potential as adsorbent pads for oil spill cleaning and food packaging applications.