“The aerogel prepared in Gong’s lab is made of cellulose nanofibrils (sustainable wood-based materials) and an environmentally friendly polymer. Furthermore, these cellulose-based aerogels are made using an environmentally friendly freeze-drying process without the use of organic solvents.
It’s the combination of this “greener” material and its high performance that got Gong’s attention.
“For this material, one unique property is that it has superior absorbing ability for organic solvents — up to nearly 100 times its own weight,” she says. “It also has strong absorbing ability for metal ions.'”