Colloid transport in porous media: Impact of hyper-saline solutions

Einat Magal, Noam Weisbrod, Yoseph Yechieli, Sharon L. Walker, Alexander Yakirevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The transport of colloids suspended in natural saline solutions with a wide range of ionic strengths, up to that of Dead Sea brines (100.9 M) was explored. Migration of microspheres through saturated sand columns of different sizes was studied in laboratory experiments and simulated with mathematical models.Colloid transport was found to be related to the solution salinity as expected. The relative concentration of colloids at the columns outlet decreased (after 2-3 pore volumes) as the solution ionic strength increased until a critical value was reached (ionic strength > 10-1.8 M) and then remained constant above this level of salinity.The colloids were found to be mobile even in the extremely saline brines of the Dead Sea. At such high ionic strength no energetic barrier to colloid attachment was presumed to exist and colloid deposition was expected to be a favorable process. However, even at these salinity levels, colloid attachment was not complete and the transport of ∼30% of the colloids through the 30-cm long columns was detected.To further explore the deposition of colloids on sand surfaces in Dead Sea brines, transport was studied using 7-cm long columns through which hundreds of pore volumes were introduced. The resulting breakthrough curves exhibited a bimodal shape whereby the relative concentration (C/C0) of colloids at the outlet rose to a value of 0.8, and it remained relatively constant (for the ∼18 pore volumes during which the colloid suspension was flushed through the column) and then the relative concentration increased to a value of one. The bimodal nature of the breakthrough suggests different rates of colloid attachment. Colloid transport processes were successfully modeled using the limited entrapment model, which assumes that the colloid attachment rate is dependent on the concentration of the attached colloids. Application of this model provided confirmation of the colloid aggregation and their accelerated attachment during transport through soil in high salinity solution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3521-3532
Number of pages12
JournalWater Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Breakthrough curve
  • Brine
  • Colloids
  • Microspheres
  • Salinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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