Pore-scale study of flow rate on colloid attachment and remobilization in a saturated micromodel

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Colloid attachment is an important retention mechanism. It is influenced by colloid size, pore size, and flow rate, among other factors. In this work, we studied colloid attachment experimentally under various flow rates, as well as colloid release in response to a rapid change of flow rate. Colloid transport experiments under saturated conditions and with different flow rates were conducted in a physical micromodel. The micromodel was made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), which is a hydrophobic polymer. Colloids were hydrophilic fluorescent carboxylate-modified polystyrene latex microspheres with a mean diameter of 300 nm. We could directly observe the movement of colloids within the pores using a confocal microscope. We also obtained concentration breakthrough curves by measuring the fluorescence intensity at the outlet of the micromodel. In addition, our experiments were simulated using a pore-network modeling, PoreFlow, based on the pore structure of the micromodel. Local colloid concentrations were calculated by solving local mass balance equations for all network elements and then averaging resulting concentrations over the whole micromodel. The measured breakthrough curves were successfully simulated using PoreFlow. Observed and calculated breakthrough curves showed that colloid attachment rate was smaller for larger flow rate. Temporally enhance colloid release (remobilization of attached colloids) was observed when the flow rate was increased by a factor of 10. But no colloid remobilization was observed when the flow rate decreased by a factor of 10.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)1376-1383
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2015


  • Pore-scale
  • micromodel
  • colloid attachment


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