Submitted to: Vadose Zone Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2007
Publication Date: 5/1/2008
Citation: Bradford, S.A., Torkzaban, S. 2008. Colloid Transport and Retention in Unsaturated Porous Media: A Review of Interface-Collector, and Pore-Scale Processes and Models. Vadose Zone Journal. Vol 7:667-681 Interpretive Summary: Our ability to predict the transport and fate of colloids such as clay particles and microorganisms and colloid-associated contaminants in soil and groundwater environments is currently limited by our lack of understanding of basic processes that occur at small scales (<1 mm). This review discusses our current knowledge of physical and chemical mechanisms, factors, and models of colloid transport and retention at this scale. The study of colloid retention at small scales provides insight on different mechanisms and factors that influences the transport and fate of colloids at larger scales that are typically considered in the laboratory and the field. Furthermore, diverse modeling approaches and experimental methodologies are needed to investigate colloid transport and retention processes at the small scale. At the small scale, the rate that colloids collide with soil grain surfaces can be calculated, and the fluid and chemical forces that act to retention colloids in soils can be determined. Our review indicates that colloids retention is strongly influenced by chemical and fluid forces, colloid concentration, water content, and the size of the colloid and the soil.
Technical Abstract: Our ability to accurately simulate the transport and retention of colloids in the vadose zone is currently limited by our lack of understanding of basic colloid retention processes that occur at the pore scale. This review discusses our current knowledge of physical and chemical mechanisms, factors, and models of colloid transport and retention at the interface, collector, and pore scales. The interface scale is well suited for studying the interaction energy and hydrodynamic forces and/or torques that act on colloids near interfaces. Solid surface roughness is reported to have a significant influence on both adhesive and applied hydrodynamic torques, whereas non-DLVO forces such as hydrophobic and capillary forces are likely to play a significant role in colloid interactions with the air-water interface. The flow field can be solved and mass transfer processes can be quantified at the collector scale. Here the potential for colloid attachment in the presence of hydrodynamic forces is determined from a balance of applied and adhesive torques. The fraction of the collector surface that contributes to attachment is demonstrated to depend on both physical and chemical conditions. Processes of colloid mass transfer and retention can also be calculated at the pore scale. Differences in collector- and pore-scale studies occur as a result of the presence of small pore spaces that are associated with multiple interfaces and zones of relative flow stagnation. Here a variety of straining processes may occur in saturated and unsaturated systems, as well as colloid size exclusion. Our current knowledge of straining processes is still incomplete, but recent research indicates a strong coupling of hydrodynamics, solution chemistry, and colloid concentration on these processes, as well as a dependency on the size of colloid, the solid grain, and the water content.