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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Feb 15;44(4):1386-91. doi: 10.1021/es902946j.

Impact of source water quality on multiwall carbon nanotube coagulation.

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  • 1Surface and Microanalysis Science Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899, USA. dave.holbrook@nist.gov


Potable water treatment facilities may become an important barrier in limiting human exposure to engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) as ENPs begin to contaminate natural aquatic systems. Coagulation of ENPs will likely be a major process that controls the ENP fate and the subsequent removal in the aqueous phase. The influence that source water quality has on ENP coagulation is still relatively unknown. The current study uses a 2(3) x 2(4-1) fractional factorial design to identify seven key surface water constituents that affect multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) coagulation. These seven factors include: influent concentrations of kaolin, organic matter (OM), alginate, and MWCNTs; type and dosage of coagulant; and method of MWCNT stabilization. MWCNT removal was most affected by coagulant type and dosage, with alum outperforming ferric chloride at circumneutral pH. None of the other factors were universally significant but instead depended on coagulant type, dose, and method of stabilization. In all cases where factors were found to have a significant impact on MWCNT removal, however, the relationship was consistent: higher influent concentrations of kaolin and alginate improved MWCNT removal while higher influent concentrations of OM hindered MWCNT coagulation. Once MWCNTs are released into the natural environment, their coagulation behavior will be determined by the type and quantity of pollutants (i.e., factors) present in the aquatic environment and are governed by the same mechanisms that influence the colloidal stability of "natural" nanoparticles.

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