Mobility of Cellulose Nanocrystals in Porous Media: Effects of Ionic Strength, Iron Oxides, and Soil Colloids


Shuang Xu, Chongyang Shen, Xueyong Zhang, Xijuan Chen, Mark Radosevich, Siqun Wang, Jie Zhuang


Understanding the dispersivity and migration of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) in porous media is important for exploring their potential for soil and water remediation. In this study, a series of saturated column experiments were conducted to investigate the coupled effects of ionic strength, iron oxides (hematite), and soil colloids on the transport of CNCs through quartz sand and natural soils (red earth and brown earth). Results showed that CNCs had high mobility in oxide-free sand and that iron oxide coating reduced the mobility of CNCs. An analysis of Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek interactions indicated that CNCs exhibited a deep primary minimum, nonexistent maximum repulsion and secondary minimum on hematite-coated sand, favorable for the attachment of CNCs. The maximum effluent percentage of CNCs was 96% in natural soils at 5 mM, but this value decreased to 4% at 50 mM. Soil colloids facilitated the transport of CNCs in brown earth with larger effect at higher ionic strength. The ionic strength effect was larger in natural soils than sand and in red earth than brown earth. The study showed that CNCs can travel 0.2 m to 72 m in porous media, depending on soil properties, solution chemistry, and soil colloids.

Access Full Publication


Xu S, Shen CY, Zhang XY, Chen XJ, Radosevich M, Wang SQ, Zhuang J. 2020. Mobility of cellulose nanocrystals in porous media: Effects of ionic strength, iron oxides, and soil colloids. Nanomaterials 10:e348.