A pore-scale investigation of the effect of nanoparticle injection on properties of sandy porous media

Raoul Djou Fopa, Carlo Bianco, Nathaly Lopes Archilha, Anderson Camargo Moreira, Tannaz Pak

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Nanoremediation is a new groundwater remediation technology in which nanoparticles (NPs) are injected into the sub-surface to promote in-situ degradation of aquifer contaminants. Although nanoremediation is an effective process to eliminate contaminants in-situ, its success relies on sufficiently mobile NPs that can reach the contaminated zones and remain there to facilitate chemical degradation of contaminants. Therefore, understanding the main parameters that control the mobility and retention of NPs in saturated porous media is a key component of designing a successful nanoremediation process.

This work presents the outcome of a pore-scale study of nZVI NP (zero-valent iron) transport in sandy porous media using the non-destructive 3D imaging technique, X-ray computed micro-tomography (X-ray micro-CT). We investigate the effect of grain size (fine, coarse, carbonate and mixed sand) and composition (carbonate vs sand grains) on the mobility and retention of NPs in sand columns. To achieve this, we used four columns packed with grains of different sizes and compositions. The main contribution of this work is, therefore, to understand the effect of NP injection on the structural and geometric properties of sandy porous media and to identify the main pore-scale mechanisms controlling NP transport and entrapment.

Our experiment shows that the pore geometries change because of NP injection. Pore clogging is evidenced through pore size and throat size distribution displaying a shift to the left with a noticeable reduction in pore connectivity in all the columns. The porosity and permeability of the columns studied display significant reduction as result of the NP injection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104126
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Early online date23 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for financial support from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) (Grant 17/20308-0) and Teesside University (Grand Challenges Seed Fund). We appreciate the outstanding support of the LNLS staff, especially the chemistry laboratory and the user office.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


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