Mobilization of Attached Clustered Colloids in Porous Media

Larissa Chequer, Pavel Bedrikovetsky, Themis Carageorgos, Alexander Badalyan, Vitaly Gitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The models for colloidal mobilization in porous media are often based on Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek interaction energy profiles. Despite abundant evidence on mobilization of particle clusters, the models to date have been limited to single colloid-surface Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek calculations. We show through visualization tests, qualitative and quantitative modeling, and data evaluation, that the widely accepted single colloid-single surface isolation does not always adequately describe colloid behavior. The experiments were performed with kaolinite and latex particles mobilized from sand grains and glass beads in a transparent visualization cell. The particles were mobilized under increasing velocity and pH and decreasing salinity. The detachment conditions were determined by a torque balance of electrostatic, drag, lifting, and gravity forces, combined with a theory of a contact area between a single soft particle and a plane surface. The tests show that the calculations based on the mechanical equilibrium of a single particle on a plane surface significantly underestimate the critical detachment velocity. A better prediction is obtained using a cluster approximation. High-resolution images taken during mobilization tests show 2-12 particle clusters on media surface and in its proximity. The mechanical-equilibrium calculations show that the attaching torque for clusters with assumed size and cylindrical shape is significantly higher than that for single particles. The critical detachment velocity of clusters, derived from the mechanical-equilibrium force and torque balances, is higher than for single particles and provides a better fit to the experimental data. Our study suggests that a cluster approximation can accurately predict the mobilization of colloids in porous media.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5696-5714
Number of pages19
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • DLVO
  • aggregates
  • clusters
  • colloid
  • electrostatic interactions
  • particle detachment

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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