Reduced graphene oxide-coated cotton as an efficient absorbent
in oil-water separation
Received: 25 October 2017 / Accepted: 27 November 2017 / Published online: 7 December 2017
Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017
The present work describes the fabrication of superhydrophobic and superoleophilic reduced graphene oxide-coated cotton
(rGO@cotton) by a facile one-step hydrothermal used method for oil-water separation. Results from X-ray diffraction (XRD),
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) analysis show the
formation of a composite structure with the presence of an ultrathin coating of rGO on the cotton fibers. The contact angle (CA)
between a static water droplet and the rGO@cotton surface in air was measured ~ 162.9°, which suggests the formation of a
superhydrophobic surface on the synthesized product. Moreover, the rGO@cotton showed excellent absorption capacity for oils
where 1 g of rGO@cotton was able to remove ~ 30–40 g of various oils in the first cycle from oil-water mixtures. The flexible
rGO@cotton was reusable and demonstrated oil retention up to ~ 35–50% at the tenth cycle using simple sorption-mechanical
squeezing test. Overall, the present work identifies that the rGO@cotton is an efficient absorbent for effective separation of oil
from oil-water mixtures.
Keywords Reduced graphene oxide
Over the last few decades, water pollution through the oil spill,
and industrial waste such as crude oil, petroleum by-products,
and hazardous organic solvents from chemical industries have
posed a severe threat to the humanity and marine lives with
growing ecological and environmental concerns throughout
the world [1, 2]. Moreover, most of the oil spill accidents
occurred in the sea during oil extraction, transportation, and
storage. To date, oil spill remains a real threat to natural hab-
itats, and there are few solutions to resolve this problem.
Traditional methods of centrifugation, oil skimmer, flotation,
and gravitational separation suffer due to poor efficiency and
long cycle times for efficient separation of oil from water [3,
4]. Also, conventional remedies like mechanical extraction,
chemical degradation, and in situ burning for massive oil spills
are inefficient and require high operational cost .
Traditional hydrophobic/oleophilic materials studied for the
removal and collection of oil have limits such as low absorp-
tion capacity, the high cost of fabrication, and poor reusability.
Notably, some materials absorb water and oil simultaneously,
which indicate a weak hydrophobicity and low oil-water sep-
aration efficiency .
In recent times, superhydrophobic (contact angle > 150
based and superoleophilic (contact angle < 10
rials explored for oil separation or hazardous organic solvent
clean-up from the oil-water mixture owing to their excellent
Love Dashairya and Madhabendra Rout contributed equally to this work.
• rGO@cotton-based superhydrophobic material is developed by
• A composite structure with an ultrathin coating of rGO on cotton fibers
• The contact angle (CA) measurement between a static water droplet and
rGO@cotton surface in air shows CA ~ 162.9
, which suggests the
superhydrophobicity of the material.
• The rGO@cotton can remove ~50–60 times various oils of its weight by
simple sorption-mechanical squeezing test.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(https://doi.org/10.1007/s42114-017-0019-9) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
* Partha Saha
Department of Ceramic Engineering, National Institute of
Technology, Rourkela, Odisha 769008, India
Advanced Composites and Hybrid Materials (2018) 1:135–148