Nonequilibrium Electrokinetic Effects in Beds of Ion-Permselective Particles

2004-12-21T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Felix C. Leinweber Ulrich Tallarek
Electrokinetic transport of fluorescent tracer molecules in a bed of porous glass beads was investigated by confocal laser scanning microscopy. Refractive index matching between beads and the saturating fluid enabled a quantitative analysis of intraparticle and extraparticle fluid-side concentration profiles. Kinetic data were acquired for the uptake and release of electroneutral and counterionic tracer under devised conditions with respect to constant pressure-driven flow through the device and the effect of superimposed electrical fields. Transport of neutral tracer is controlled by intraparticle mass transfer resistance which can be strongly reduced by electroosmotic flow, while steady-state distributions and bead-averaged concentrations are unaffected by the externally applied fields. Electrolytes of low ionic strength caused the transport through the charged (mesoporous) beads to become highly ion-permselective, and concentration polarization is induced in the bulk solution due to the superimposed fields. The depleted concentration polarization zone comprises extraparticle fluid-side mass transfer resistance. Ionic concentrations in this diffusion boundary layer decrease at increasing field strength, and the flux densities approach an upper limit. Meanwhile, intraparticle transport of counterions by electromigration and electroosmosis continues to increase and finally exceeds the transport from bulk solution into the beads. A nonequilibrium electrical double layer is induced which consists of mobile and immobile space charge regions in the extraparticle bulk solution and inside a bead, respectively. These electrical field-induced space charges form the basis for nonequilibrium electrokinetic phenomena. Caused by the underlying transport discrimination (intraparticle electrokinetic vs extraparticle boundary-layer mass transfer), the dynamic adsorption capacity for counterions can be drastically reduced. Further, the extraparticle mobile space charge region leads to nonlinear electroosmosis. Flow patterns can become highly chaotic, and electrokinetic instability mixing is shown to increase lateral dispersion. Under these conditions, the overall axial dispersion of counterionic tracer can be reduced by more than 2 orders of magnitude, as demonstrated by pulse injections.