Novel In-situ Precipitation Process to Engineer Low Permeability Porous Composite

Swambabu Varanasi, Uthpala Garusinghe, George P. Simon, Gil Garnier, Warren Batchelor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Inspired by the natural precipitation of minerals in soil and rocks, a novel, simple and industrially scalable in-situ precipitation process to produce low permeability porous composites is presented. This process relies on capillary flow in wettable porous composites to absorb and store liquid. In this process, a porous composite first absorbs a salt solution, after which the composite is dipped in a second salt solution. Salts are selected such as they react to form an insoluble precipitate. As big pores absorb more liquid than small pores, the precipitated particles are formed specifically for each pore. In this paper, precipitation of CaCO3 nanoparticles in cellulose nanofibre (CNF) films was demonstrated as an example. Precipitation of 1 wt% of CaCO3 nanoparticles in the CNF film reduced the pore volume by 50%, without changing the density. This reduced the water vapour and oxygen transmission rates by one order of magnitude to 4.7 g/ and 2.7 cc/, respectively. The barrier properties of in-situ precipitated composites showed superior performance to previously reported CNF films in literature. The concept is general and of very high industrial interest as it can easily be retrofitted to current continuous industrial processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10747
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

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