Investigation of Amphiphilic Polypeptoid-Functionalized Halloysite Nanotubes as Emulsion Stabilizer for Oil Spill Remediation

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© 2019 American Chemical Society. Halloysite nanotubes (HNTs), naturally occurring and environmental benign clay nanoparticles, have been successfully functionalized with amphiphilic polypeptoid polymers by surface-initiated polymerization methods and investigated as emulsion stabilizers toward oil spill remediation. The hydrophilicity and lipophilicity balance (HLB) of the grafted polypeptoids was shown to affect the wettability of functionalized HNTs and their performance as stabilizers for oil-in-water emulsions. The functionalized HNTs having relatively high hydrophobic content (HLB = 12.0-15.0) afforded the most stable oil-in-water emulsions containing the smallest oil droplet sizes. This has been attributed to the augmented interfacial activities of polypeptoid-functionalized HNTs, resulting in more effective reduction of interfacial tension, enhancement of thermodynamic propensity of the HNT particles to partition at the oil-water interface, and increased emulsion viscosity relative to the pristine HNTs. Cell culture studies have revealed that polypeptoid-functionalized HNTs are noncytotoxic toward Alcanivorax borkumensis, a dominant alkane degrading bacterium found in the ocean after oil spill. Notably, the functionalized HNTs with higher hydrophobic polypeptoid content (HLB = 12.0-14.3) were shown to induce more cell proliferation than either pristine HNTs or those functionalized with less hydrophobic polypeptoids. It was postulated that the functionalized HNTs with higher hydrophobic polypeptoid content may promote the bacterial proliferation by providing larger oil-water interfacial area and better anchoring of bacteria at the interface.

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ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces

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