Phosphorylated cellulose nanofibers exhibit exceptional capacity for uranium capture

Janika Lehtonen, Jukka Hassinen*, Avula Anil Kumar, Leena Sisko Johansson, Roni Mäenpää, Nikolaos Pahimanolis, Thalappil Pradeep, Olli Ikkala, Orlando J. Rojas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)
157 Downloads (Pure)


We investigate the adsorption of hexavalent uranium, U(VI), on phosphorylated cellulose nanofibers (PHO-CNF) and compare the results with those for native and TEMPO-oxidized nanocelluloses. Batch adsorption experiments in aqueous media show that PHO-CNF is highly efficient in removing U(VI) in the pH range between 3 and 6. Gelling of nanofiber hydrogels is observed at U(VI) concentration of 500 mg/L. Structural changes in the nanofiber network (scanning and transmission electron microscopies) and the surface chemical composition (X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy) gave insights on the mechanism of adsorption. The results from batch adsorption experiments are fitted to Langmuir, Freundlich, and Sips isotherm models, which indicate a maximum adsorption capacity of 1550 mg/g, the highest value reported so far for any bioadsorbent. Compared to other metals (Zn, Mn, and Cu) and typical ions present in natural aqueous matrices the phosphorylated nanofibers are shown to be remarkably selective to U(VI). The results suggest a solution for the capture of uranium, which is of interest given its health and toxic impacts when present in aqueous matrices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10719-10732
Number of pages14
Issue number18
Early online date1 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Adsorption
  • Cellulose nanofibers
  • Heavy metal
  • Phosphorylated
  • U(VI)
  • Uranium


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