Over the past decade, metal sulfates and their hydrates have garnered attention due to their immense potential and various applications, with the demand for these compounds with surface oleophilicity or hydrophobicity surging across various industries. The emergence of nanomaterials based on alkali metal sulfates and hydrates has opened doors to sustainable, versatile applications. Notably, bassanite nanofibers have captured recent attention due to their high mechanical strength, thermal stability, and chemical resistance, making them valuable in sectors like rubber, plastics, antifriction materials, and paper reinforcement. The benignancy and moderate water-solubility of this compound eliminates both health and environmental concerns, which are common barriers in nanofiber applications. However, current methods for incorporating these nanofibers still lack effective surface modification to ensure compatibility with various matrices, particularly in the realm of polymer nanocomposites, thus presenting another obstacle in the realization of their full potential.
Researchers at Arizona State University have developed nanostructured materials made from metal sulfates and their hydrates, with improved oleophilicity or hydrophobicity compared to traditional metal sulfates or hydrates. These nanostructured materials demonstrate better dispersibility in a nonpolar organic medium than the metal sulfate or the hydrate, showing potential for applications in rubber and plastic production, antifriction materials and paper as a strengthening agent that also adds heat resistance, flame retardance, or creep resistance. By providing an intermediate coating of titania (TiO2 or its hydrous form) on the sulfate surface, common barriers faced in the surface-functionalization of metal sulfates are combated through the utilization of titanyl sulfate dihydrate solution in methanol for surface modification. This process is implemented without the use of specialized equipment, making it both inexpensive and easily scalable, and uses bassanite, the only environmentally benign nanofiber.
- Rubber & plastic manufacturing
- Antifriction materials
- Flame retardants
- Polymer nanocomposites
Benefits and Advantages
- Environmentally friendly
- Inexpensive and scalable production
- Does not require specialized equipment