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Estimation of diffusion coefficient of chromium in colloidal silica using digital photography.

by Netnapid Tantemsapya, Jay N Meegoda
Environmental science & technology ()


In order to study the effectiveness of using colloidal silica, NYACOL DP5110, to stabilize chromium-contaminated soil, the diffusion of chromium in colloidal silica gel was estimated from laboratory experiments. To measure diffusion coefficients of chromium in the colloidal silica gel, a new measurement method based on digital photography was introduced. A series of experiments were designed and conducted to validate this new method and to estimate the diffusion coefficients of chromium in the colloidal silica gel. Accuracy of the proposed method was evaluated by several differentways. It was found that the apparent diffusion coefficient of chromium in colloidal silica gel ranged from 1.76 to 8.48 x 10(-10) m2/s depending mainly on the concentration of silica in the gel with chromium concentration less than 10(-2) M. Higher silica concentrations yielded lower diffusion coefficients due to the obstruction to the free movement of chromium. The adsorption isotherm of chromate to colloidal silica gel was found to be linear at pH 7; the partition coefficient was calculated to be 0.549 L/g. Mass balance calculations were performed to evaluate the accuracy of the proposed method and found that the measuring error was less than 6.5%. Based on the test data, the estimation of diffusion coefficients for chromium in colloidal silica gel using digital photography seems to be accurate and precise. This method is suitable for analyzing colored chemicals inside clear/white gels. From the results, it can be concluded that the gel behaves as a porous material with silica network forming continuous solid phase and its pore space saturated with water. The chromium ions diffuse in porous silica gel on a tortuous path. Therefore, the bulk diffusion dominates. Thus, the silica can be represented as a fix and impenetrable immersion in the solution. The presence of these motionless silica chains leads to an increase in the mean path of the diffusing molecules between two points in the system. On the basis of the test results, it can also be concluded that colloidal silica, NYACOL DP5110, for in-situ treatment of chromium-contaminated soils seems to be ineffective. Further research of more realistic simulation of diffusion and refined gel formulation with the capacity to convert the chromium to an immobile form is recommended.

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