Straining of colloidal particles in saturated porous media



[1] Straining may influence the mobility of colloid-sized particles within groundwater aquifers as well as within granular filters that are used in wastewater treatment. We conducted column transport experiments using latex microspheres as the colloids and quartz sand as the porous medium to investigate the response of colloid straining to changes in colloid diameter (dp) and sand grain diameter (dg). For these experiments the negatively charged microspheres were suspended in deionized water, and the quartz sand was thoroughly cleaned to minimize physicochemical deposition (attachment), which permitted the determination of straining in an unambiguous way. The measurements of strained (immobile phase) and effluent (aqueous phase) colloid concentrations could be described with a transport model that accounted for an exponential decline in straining rates with increasing concentrations of strained colloids. Best fit values of the model coefficient that quantified clean bed straining rates (ko) were negligibly small for dp/dg < 0.008 and, above this threshold, varied linearly with dp/dg. Our findings suggest that accurate inferences on the mobility of colloid-sized particles will require consideration of the effects of straining when dp/dg exceeds 0.008.