Water Research, 01 February 2013, Vol.47(2), pp.933-944
Water-saturated column experiments were conducted to investigate the effect of input concentration ( ) and sand grain size on the transport and retention of low concentrations (1, 0.01, and 0.005 mg L ) of functionalized C-labeled multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) under repulsive electrostatic conditions that were unfavorable for attachment. The breakthrough curves (BTCs) for MWCNT typically did not reach a plateau, but had an asymmetric shape that slowly increased during breakthrough. The retention profiles (RPs) were not exponential with distance, but rather exhibited a hyper-exponential shape with greater retention near the column inlet. The collected BTCs and RPs were simulated using a numerical model that accounted for both time- and depth-dependent blocking functions on the retention coefficient. For a given , the depth-dependent retention coefficient and the maximum solid phase concentration of MWCNT were both found to increase with decreasing grain size. These trends reflect greater MWCNT retention rates and a greater number of retention locations in the finer textured sand. The fraction of the injected MWCNT mass that was recovered in the effluent increased and the RPs became less hyper-exponential in shape with higher due to enhanced blocking/filling of retention locations. This concentration dependency of MWCNT transport increased with smaller grain size because of the effect of pore structure and MWCNT shape on MWCNT retention. In particular, MWCNT have a high aspect ratio and we hypothesize that solid phase MWCNT may create a porous network with enhanced ability to retain particles in smaller grain sized sand, especially at higher . Results demonstrate that model simulations of MWCNT transport and fate need to accurately account for observed behavior of both BTCs and RPs. ► Breakthrough curves and retention profiles were measured and numerically modeled. ► We used very low (0.005–1 mg L ) input concentrations of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). ► Breakthrough of CNTs increased with increasing input concentration and grain size. ► Data were simulated well using time- and depth-dependent retention coefficients. ► Model predictions indicate the transport of CNTs to distances greater than 12 cm.
Carbon Nanotubes ; Column Experiments ; Quartz Sand ; Breakthrough Curves ; Retention Profiles ; Transport Modeling ; Engineering
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