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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Polymer Science and Engineering

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Kenneth R Carter

Second Advisor

David Hoagland

Third Advisor

Omar Abdelrahman

Subject Categories

Polymer Science


Scientists and governments have recognized the need for environmental remediation, most notably with the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2016. One of the major concerns is the production of greenhouse gases (GHGs). The major GHG is carbon dioxide (CO2) in which humans emit over 36 gigatons yearly. Atmospheric CO2 is responsible for 60% of the heat retained by the earth – resulting in rising temperatures, melting ice caps, and increasing ocean acidification. Therefore, a major goal of the Paris Agreement was to reduce GHG emissions as well as the capture of CO2 from the atmosphere. Here within, a sustainable nanocellulose aerogel is synthesized and characterized for the intended application of CO2 capture. First, arginine, a sustainable amino acid with high amine content, is grafted onto the surface of cellulose nanofibers. Through the water-soluble coupling reactions known as EDC/NHS coupling, it was possible to achieve an arginine loading of 0.78 mmol/g; or near 100% maximum possible grafting of arginine. Following this grafting, aerogels of both the grafted and ungrafted cellulose nanofibers are then processed into aergoels using a sustainable process pioneered by the Carter group. This process results in mechanically robust aerogels, with a modulus of 15.4 MPa, one the highest moduli for highly porous nanocellulose aerogels. These aerogels are then subjected to CO2 adsorption studies using a custom laboratory built instrument. When grafted, we find that the arginine significantly improves the CO2 adsorption compared to the unmodified fibers. Furthermore, this adsorption is relatively fast (< 5 minutes), significantly faster than current nanocellulose CO2 adsorbents.