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Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Dec 18;46(24):13193-201. doi: 10.1021/es302801a. Epub 2012 Dec 3.

Thermodynamic and kinetic controls on cotransport of Pantoea agglomerans cells and Zn through clean and iron oxide coated sand columns.

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  • 1School of Geosciences, Earth & Planetary Sciences Group, Grant Institute, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JW, United Kingdom. leonkapetas@gmail.com


Recent observations that subsurface bacteria quickly adsorb metal contaminants raise concerns that they may enhance metal transport, given the high mobility of bacteria themselves. However, metal adsorption to bacteria is also reversible, suggesting that mobility within porous medium will depend on the interplay between adsorption-desorption kinetics and thermodynamic driving forces for adsorption. Till now there has been no systematic investigation of these important interactions. This study investigates the thermodynamic and kinetic controls of cotransport of Pantoea agglomerans cells and Zn in quartz and iron-oxide coated sand (IOCS) packed columns. Batch kinetic studies show that significant Zn sorption on IOCS takes place within two hours. Adsorption onto P. agglomerans surfaces reaches equilibrium within 30 min. Experiments in flow through quartz sand systems demonstrate that bacteria have negligible effect on zinc mobility, regardless of ionic strength and pH conditions. Zinc transport exhibits significant retardation in IOCS columns at high pH in the absence of cells. Yet, when mobile bacteria (non attached) are passed through simultaneously with zinc, no facilitated transport is observed. Adsorption onto cells becomes significant and plays a role in mobile metal speciation only once the IOCS is saturated with zinc. This suggests that IOCS exhibits stronger affinity for Zn than cell surfaces. However, when bacteria and Zn are preassociated on entering the column, zinc transport is initially facilitated. Subsequently, zinc partly desorbs from the cells and redistributes onto the IOCS as a result of the higher thermodynamic affinity for IOCS.

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