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Toward Bioderived Intelligent Nanocarriers for Controlled Pollutant Recovery and pH-Sensitive Binding

Chiappisi, Leonardo, Simon, Miriam, Gradzielski, Michael
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2015 v.7 no.11 pp. 6139-6145
anionic surfactants, biodegradability, chitosan, cosmetics, hydrophilicity, hydrophobicity, metal ions, models, nanocarriers, pH, pollutants, synthetic products, wastewater treatment
The pH-triggered formation of supramolecular complexes between the cationic biopolysaccharide chitosan and an environmentally friendly anionic surfactant is exploited for the formulation of selective and controlled-recovery systems. A strong advantage of this system is the very small pH range in which the binding/release process takes place. Because of this high pH responsiveness, chitosan–surfactant complexes are employed for the sequestration of various compounds by binding or releasing them from the complexes. In particular, the selective recovery of a model hydrophobic pollutant in the presence of a hydrophilic one is presented. The process is highly selective and effective, with more than 90% of the hydrophobic dye and ca. 10% of the hydrophilic dye recovered. Furthermore, the method can be extended to the selective recovery of metal ions, and in both cases, the original surfactant and chitosan mixture can be recovered, thereby rendering this an efficient and sustainable process. These showcase experiments depict quite different scenarios in which pH-responsive fully biodegradable polysaccharide–surfactant complexes can be employed and may substitute synthetic products in various fields, e.g., wastewater treatment, cosmetics, and agriculture, thereby yielding environmentally improved approaches.