RSC Advances | 2019
Fabrication of thermo-sensitive lignocellulose hydrogels with switchable hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity through an SIPN strategy
Herein, thermo-sensitive lignocellulose hydrogels with varying lignin contents were fabricated with N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAAm) by a semi-interpenetrating polymer network (SIPN) strategy using a LiCl/DMSO solvent system. Soda lignin mixed with the lignocellulose/LiCl/DMSO solution was also used to prepare the composite hydrogels, and the influence of the existential state of lignin on the hydrogel properties was analyzed objectively. The SIPN hydrogels exhibited more favorable mechanical properties due to the physical entanglement of poly-NIPAAm and lignocellulose. The presence of externally added lignin in the composite hydrogels is beneficial for mechanical improvement. Both the mechanical properties and the morphologies of the SIPN hydrogels can be tuned by varying the existential state and content of lignin. Furthermore, the prepared SIPN hydrogels showed rapid conversion from being hydrophilic at 20 °C to being hydrophobic at 45 °C. All SIPN hydrogels exhibited obvious oil absorbency in an oil/water mixture at 45 °C. Moreover, the different lignin existential states in the hydrogels resulted in different lower critical solution temperatures (LCST). This study provides a feasible route to produce reinforced thermo-sensitive hydrogels and develops a method for tailoring the morphology and the absorption properties of hydrogels by controlling the existential state and content of lignin.