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Chemosphere. 2010 Sep;81(3):387-93. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2010.07.007. Epub 2010 Aug 3.

Transport of metal oxide nanoparticles in saturated porous media.

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Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


The behavior of four types of untreated metal oxide nanoparticles in saturated porous media was studied. The transport of Fe(3)O(4), TiO(2), CuO, and ZnO was measured in a series of column experiments. Vertical columns were packed with uniform, spherical glass beads. The particles were introduced as a pulse suspended in aqueous solutions and breakthrough curves at the outlet were measured using UV-vis spectrometry. Different factors affecting the mobility of the nanoparticles such as ionic strength, addition of organic matter (humic acid), flow rate and pH were investigated. The experiments showed that mobility varies strongly among the nanoparticles, with TiO(2) demonstrating the highest mobility. The mobility is also strongly affected by the experimental conditions. Increasing the ionic strength enhances the deposition of the nanoparticles. On the other hand, addition of humic acid increases the nanoparticle mobility significantly. Lower flow rates again led to reduced mobility, while changes in pH had little effect. Overall, in natural systems, it is expected that the presence of humic acid in soil and aquifer materials, and the ionic strength of the resident water, will be key factors determining nanoparticle mobility.

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