Retention Site Contribution towards Silver Particle Immobilization in Porous Media

Janis E. Patiño, Francisco Pérez Reche, Verónica L. Morales* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work investigates the role that pore structure plays in colloid retention across scales with a novel methodology based on image analysis. Experiments were designed to quantify–with robust statistics–the contribution from commonly proposed retention sites toward colloid immobilization. Specific retention sites include solid-water interface, air-water in terface, air-water-solid triple point, grain-to-grain contacts, and thin films. Variable conditions for pore-water content, velocity, and chemistry were testedin a model glass bead
porous medium with silver microspheres. Concentration signals from effluent breakthrough and spatial profiles of retained particles from micro X-ray Computed Tomography were used to compute mass balances and enumerate pore-scale regions of interest in three dimensions. At the Darcy-scale, retained colloids follow non-monotonic deposition profiles, which implicates effects from flow-stagnation zones. The spatial distribution of immobilized colloids along the porous medium depth was analyzed by retention site, reveal26 ing depth-independent partitioning of colloids. At the pore-scale, dominance and over all saturation of all retention sites considered indicated that the solid-water interface and wedge-shaped regions associated with flow-stagnation (grain-to-grain contacts in satu rated and air-water-solid triple points in unsaturated conditions) are the greatest contributors toward retention under the tested conditions. At the interface-scale, xDLVO energy profiles were in agreement with pore-scale observations. Our calculations suggest favorable interactions for colloids and solid-water interfaces and for weak flocculation (e.g.,at flow-stagnation zones), but unfavorable interactions between colloids and air-water
interfaces. Overall, we demonstrate that pore-structure plays a critical role in colloid immobilization and that Darcy-, pore- and interface-scales are consistent when the pore structure is taken into account.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021WR031807
Number of pages15
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number5
Early online date30 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • colloid
  • filtration
  • interfaces
  • pore structure
  • upscaling
  • stagnation zones


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