A Theoretical Analysis of Colloid Attachment and Straining in Chemically Heterogeneous Porous Media

Scott A. Bradford, Saeed Torkzaban, Alexander Shapiro

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A balance of applied hydrodynamic (TH) and resisting adhesive (TA) torques was conducted over a chemically heterogeneous porous medium that contained random roughness of height hr to determine the fraction of the solid surface area that contributes to colloid immobilization (Sf*) under unfavorable attachment conditions. This model considers resistance due to deformation and the horizontal component of the adhesive force (FAT), spatial variations in the pore scale velocity distribution, and the influence of hr on lever arms for TH and TA. Values of Sf* were calculated for a wide range of physicochemical properties to gain insight into mechanisms and factors influencing colloid immobilization. Colloid attachment processes were demonstrated to depend on solution ionic strength (IS), the colloid radius (rc), the Young’s modulus (K), the amount of chemical heterogeneity (P+), and the Darcy velocity (q). Colloid immobilization was also demonstrated to occur on a rough surface in the absence of attachment. In this case, Sf* depended on IS, rc, the roughness fraction (f), hr, and q. Roughness tended to enhance TA and diminish TH. Consequently, the effect of IS on Sf* was enhanced by hr relative to attachment. In contrast, the effects of rc and q on Sf* were diminished by hr in comparison to attachment. Colloid immobilization adjacent to macroscopic roughness locations shares many similarities to grain–grain contact points and may be viewed as a type of straining process. In general, attachment was more important for higher IS and variance in the secondary minimum, and for smaller rc, q, and K, but diffusion decreased these values. Conversely, straining was dominant for the opposite conditions. Discrepancies in the literature on mechanisms of colloid retention are likely due to a lack of consideration of all of these factors.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number23
Pages (from-to)6944-6952
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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