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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Sep 15;41(18):6418-24.

Optimization of nano- and microiron transport through sand columns using polyelectrolyte mixtures.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.


Sand-packed columns were used to study the transport of micro- and nanoiron particle suspensions modified with anionic polyelectrolytes. With microscale carbonyl iron powder (CIP), the profiles of initial and eluted particle diameters were compared with simulations based on classical filtration theory (CFT), using both the Tufenkji-Elimelech (TE) and Rajagopalan-Tien (RT) models. With particle size distributions that peaked in the submicron range, there was reasonable agreement between both models and the eluted distributions. With distributions that peaked in the 1.5 mirom range, however, the eluted distributions were narrower and shifted to a smaller particle size than predicted by CFT. Apparent sticking coefficients depended on column length and flow rate, and the profile of retained iron in the columns did not follow the log-linearform expected from CFT. These observations could be rationalized in terms of the secondary energy minimum model recently proposed by Tufenkji and Elimelech (Langmuir 2005, 21, 841). For microiron, sticking coefficients correlated well with particle zeta potentials and polyacrylate (PAA) concentration. With nanoscale iron particles, there was no apparent correlation between filtration length and total electrolyte concentration. However, mixtures of PAA with poly (4-styrenesulfonate) and bentonite clay significantly enhanced nanoiron transport, possibly by affecting the aggregation of the particles.

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