Crosslinking-aided gelation was utilized to prepare hydrogels from softwood polysaccharides, with spruce galactoglucomannans (GGM)-a group of largely unexploited hemicelluloses-as the main component, aiming at conversion into sponge-like aerogels. Cellulose nanofibrils were used for the formation of a reinforcing network, which was further crosslinked together with a GGM matrix by ammonium zirconium carbonate, an inorganic salt that is regarded as safe for use in food packaging. The hydrogels were freeze-dried into stiff, low-density aerogels with 98 % of their volume composed of air-filled pores. When immersed in water, the aerogels absorbed water up to 37 times their initial weight, demonstrating elasticity and repeatable and reversible sponge capacity. The developed concept reassembles the wood polysaccharides in a new way, creating interesting possibilities for utilizing the abundant "green gold," GGM. The obtained biobased materials could find application potential, for example, in the field of food packaging and could contribute in the reduction of the usage of petroleum-based plastics in the future.
- Ammonium zirconium carbonate
- Chemical crosslinking