Kinetics of Coupled Primary- and Secondary-Minimum Deposition of Colloids under Unfavorable Chemical Conditions

This study examines the deposition/release mechanisms involved in colloid retention under unfavorable conditions through theoretical analysis and laboratory column experiments. A Maxwell approach was utilized to estimate the coupled effects of primary- and secondary-minimum deposition. Theoretical analysis indicates that the secondary energy minimum plays a dominant role in colloid deposition even for nanosized particles (e.g., 20 nm) and primary-minimum deposition rarely happens for large colloids (e.g., 1000 nm) when diffusion is the dominant process. Polystyrene latex particles (30 and 1156 nm) and clean sand were used to conduct three-step column experiments at different solution ionic strengths, a constant pH of 10, and a flow rate of 0.0012 cm/s. Experimental results confirm that small colloids can also be deposited in secondary minima. Additional column experiments involving flow interruption further indicates that the colloids deposited in the secondary energy well can be spontaneously released to bulk solution when the secondary energy minimum is comparable to the average Brownian kinetic energy. Experimental collision efficiencies are in good agreement with Maxwell model predictions but different from the theoretical values calculated by the interfacial force boundary layer approximation. We propose a priori analytical approach to estimate collision efficiencies accounting for both primary- and secondary-minimum deposition and suggest that the reversibility of colloid (e.g., viruses and bacteria) deposition must be considered in transport models for accurate predictions of their travel time in the subsurface environments.