Natural organic matter enhanced mobility of nano zerovalent iron

Richard L. Johnson, Graham O.Brien Johnson, James T. Nurmi, Paul G. Tratnyek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

209 Scopus citations


Column studies showed that the mobility of nanometer-sized zerovalent iron (nZVI) through granular media is greatly increased in the presence of natural organic matter (NOM). At NOM concentrations of 20 mg/L or greater, the nZVI was highly mobile during transport experiments in 0.15-m long columns packed with medium sand. Below 20 mg/L NOM, mobility of the nZVI was less; however, even at 2 mg/L the nZVI showed significantly increased mobility compared to the no-NOM case. Spectrophotometric and aggregation studies of nZVI suspensions in the presence of NOM suggest that sorption of the NOM onto the nZVI, resulting in a reduced sticking coefficient, may be the primary mechanism of enhanced mobility. Modeling the mobility of nZVI in porous media with filtration theory is challenging, but calibration of a simple model with experimental results from the column experiments reported here allows simulation of transport distances during injection. The simulation results show that the increased mobility due to NOM combined with the decrease in mobility due to decreased velocity with distance from an injection well could produce an injection zone that is wide enough to be useful for remediation but small enough to avoid reaching unwanted receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5455-5460
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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