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J Contam Hydrol. 2014 Mar;158:1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2013.12.002. Epub 2013 Dec 22.

Transport of stabilized engineered silver (Ag) nanoparticles through porous sandstones.

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RWTH Aachen University, Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, Lochnerstr. 4-20, 52064 Aachen, Germany. Electronic address:
RWTH Aachen University, Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, Lochnerstr. 4-20, 52064 Aachen, Germany.


Engineered nanoparticles are increasingly applied in consumer products and concerns are rising regarding their risk as potential contaminants or carriers for colloid-facilitated contaminant transport. Engineered silver nanoparticles (AgNP) are among the most widely used nanomaterials in consumer products. However, their mobility in groundwater has been scarcely investigated. In this study, transport of stabilized AgNP through porous sandstones with variations in mineralogy, pore size distribution and permeability is investigated in laboratory experiments with well-defined boundary conditions. The AgNP samples were mainly characterized by asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation coupled to a multi-angle static laser light detector and ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy for determination of particle size and concentration. The rock samples are characterized by mercury porosimetry, flow experiments and solute tracer tests. Solute and AgNP breakthrough was quantified by applying numerical models considering one kinetic site model for particle transport. The transport of AgNP strongly depends on pore size distribution, mineralogy and the solution ionic strength. Blocking of attachment sites results in less reactive transport with increasing application of AgNP mass. AgNPs were retained due to physicochemical filtration and probably due to straining. The results demonstrate the restricted applicability of AgNP transport parameters determined from simplified experimental model systems to realistic environmental matrices.


Column experiments; Engineered nanoparticles; Engineered silver nanoparticles; Field-Flow Fractionation; Reactive transport; Sandstone; Transport

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