Indexed on: 19 Oct '17Published on: 19 Oct '17Published in: Environmental Science & Technology
Carbon-metal oxide nanohybrids (NHs) are increasingly recognized as the next-generation, promising group of nanomaterials for solving emerging environmental issues and challenges. This research, for the first time, systematically explored the transport and retention of carbon nanotubes-magnetite (CNT-Fe3O4) NH aggregates in water-saturated porous media under environmentally relevant conditions. A macromolecule modifier, carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) was employed to stabilize the NHs. Our results show that transport of the magnetic CNT-Fe3O4 NHs was lower than that of non-magnetic CNT due to larger hydrodynamic sizes of NHs (induced by magnetic attraction) and size-dependent retention in porous media. Classical Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory can explain the mobility of NHs under varying experimental conditions. However, in contrast with colloid filtration theory, a novel transport feature-an initial lower and a following sharp, higher peaks occurred frequently in the NHs' breakthrough curves and the magnitude and location of both transport peaks varied with different experimental conditions, due to the interplay between variability of fluid viscosity and size-selective retention of the NHs. Promisingly, the estimated maximum transport distance of NHs ranged between ~0.38-46 m, supporting the feasibility of employing the magnetically recyclable CNT-Fe3O4 NHs for in-situ nanoremediation of contaminated soil, aquifer, and groundwater.