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Current Projects

Impacts of Surface Coating Aging on Nanomaterial Fate and Transport in Porous Media
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Researchers: Kurt D. Pennell (PI), Linda Abriola (Co-PI), John Fortner (Co-PI, Washington University in St. Louis ), Yonggang Wang (Co-PI)

Despite rapid advances in nanotechnologies over the past decade, our current understanding of nanomaterial fate and transport in the environment remains limited. Recent studies have demonstrated that new approaches are needed to accurately predict the transport and retention of nanomaterialspresence of stabilizing agents, such as surfactants and organic matter. Although most commercially-available nanomaterials are produced with su in soils and aquifers. In addition, nanomaterial mobility is known to depend upon surface coating properties and the rface coatings, very little information is available regarding their longevity and impact on nanomaterial fate over time. To address these gaps in our current understanding of nanomaterials, the project combines laboratory experiments with mathematical modeling to quantify and predict the effects of surface coating aging on the fate and transport of several representative engineered nanomaterials (iron and manganese oxides) in sands and natural soils. The research is structured around three tasks; (1) determination of nanoparticle deposition and release rates as a function of surface coating properties using a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), (2) measurement of nanoparticle transport and attachment in soil columns and aquifer cells, and (3) development and validation of mathematical models to predict the effects of surface coating properties and aging on nanoparticle mobility and persistence in soils and aquifer materials. Novel aspects of the research include the assessment of nanoparticle deposition rates, utilization of scanning electron microscopy (SEM), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and light transmission (LT) analysis to visualize nanoparticle mobility, and the integration of experimental and mathematical modeling to assess nanomaterial fate in the environment.

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