Effect of clay colloid particles on formaldehyde transport in unsaturated porous media

Theodosia V. Fountouli, Constantinos V. Chrysikopoulos

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11 Scopus citations


This study examines the effects of two representative colloid-sized clay particles (kaolinite, KGa-1b and montmorillonite, STx-1b) on the transport of formaldehyde (FA) in unsaturated porous media. The transport of FA was examined with and without the presence of clay particles under various flow rates and various levels of saturation in columns packed with quartz sand, under unsaturated conditions. The experimental results clearly suggested that the presence of clay particles retarded by up to ~23% the transport of FA in unsaturated packed columns. Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) interaction energy calculations demonstrated that permanent retention of clay colloids at air-water interfaces (AWI) and solid-water interfaces (SWI) was negligible, except for the pair (STx-1b)–SWI. The experimental results of this study showed that significant clay colloid retention occurred in the unsaturated column, especially at low flow rates. This deviation from DLVO predictions may be explained by the existence of additional non-DLVO forces (hydrophobic and capillary forces) that could be much stronger than van der Waals and double layer forces. The present study shows the important role of colloids, which may act as carriers of contaminants.

Original languageBritish English
Article number3541
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Clay colloids
  • Co-transport
  • Formaldehyde
  • Kaolinite
  • Montmorillonite
  • Sand
  • Unsaturated porous media


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