Cellulose-based hydrogels were prepared by the extraction of cellulose from corncobs after the removal of lignin and hemicellulose with the use of alkali-acid treatment. Acrylate-based hydrogels presently available for personal hygiene uses are not biodegradable. In this study, a biodegradable cellulose-co-AMPS personal hygiene hydrogel was synthesized. The hydrogel was synthesized by graft co-polymerization of 2-acrylamido2-methyl propane sulfonic acid onto corncob cellulose by using potassium persulfate (KPS) as an initiator and borax decahydrate (Na2B4O7·10H2O) as a cross-linking agent. Structural and functional characteristics of the hydrogel such as swelling measurements, antimicrobial tests, FTIR spectra and thermogravimetric analysis were done. The hydrogel showed an average swelling ratio of 279.6 g/g to water and 83.3 g/g to a urine solution with a 97% gel fraction. The hydrogel displayed no clear inhibition zone and did not support the growth of bacteria, Gram-positive or -negative. The FT-IR spectra of the hydrogel confirmed the grafting of an AMPS co-polymer onto cellulose chains. The thermal properties of the hydrogel showed three-step degradation, with a complete degradation temperature of 575 °C.
Keywords: cellulose; corncobs; hydrogel; personal hygiene; swelling ratio.