Controlled release fertilizer delivery system derived from rice straw cellulose nanofibres: a circular economy based solution for sustainable development
Recently, the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly biomaterials has gained the attention of researchers as potential alternatives to petroleum-based materials. Biomaterials are a promising candidate to mitigate sustainability issues due to their renewability, biodegradability, and cost-effectiveness. Thus, the purpose of this study is to explore a cost-effective biomaterial-based delivery system for delivering fertilizers to plants. To achieve this, rice straw (agro-waste) was selected as a raw material for the extraction of cellulose. The cellulose was extracted through alkali treatment (12% NaOH), followed by TEMPO-based oxidation. The cellulose nanofibers were characterized using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy. In scanning electron microscopy, a loosening of the fibrillar structure in cellulose nanofibers (CNFs) was observed with a diameter of 17 ± 4 nm. The CNFs were loaded with nitrogen-based fertilizer (ammonium chloride) in 1:1, 1:2, and 2:1 (w/w) proportions. The loading was estimated through surface charge variation; in the case of the 1:1 sample, maximum reductions in surface charge were seen from −42.0 mV to −12.8 mV due to the binding of positive ammonium ions. In the release kinetics study, a controlled release pattern was observed at 1:1, which showed a 58% cumulative release of ammonium ions within 8 days. Thus, the study paves the way for value-added uses of rice straw as an alternative to the current environmentally harmful practices.