Transport and retention of fullerene nanoparticles in natural soils

Yonggang Wang, Yusong Li, Hyunjung Kim, Sharon L. Walker, Linda M. Abriola, Kurt D. Pennell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Commercial production and use of fullerene (C60) nanomaterials will inevitably lead to their release into the environment, where knowledge of C60 fate and transport is limited. In this study, a series of one-dimensional column experiments was conducted to assess the transport and retention of nanoscale fullerene aggregates (nC60) in water-saturated soils. Under the experimental conditions, complete retention of nC60 was observed in columns (2.5 cm inside diameter × 11 cm length) packed with Appling or Webster soil, which contain 0.75 and 3.33% organic carbon by weight, respectively. When the volume of aqueous nC60 suspension (∼4.5 mg L-1) applied to Appling soil was increased from 5 to 65 pore volumes, the travel distance increased from 3 to 8 cm, and the retention capacity approached a limiting value of 130 μg g-1, although nC60 was not detected in the column effluent. The addition of 20 mg C L-1 Suwannee River humic acid to the influent suspension increased the nC60 transport in Appling soil but did not result in breakthrough. Attempts to simulate the experimental data using clean-bed filtration theory were not satisfactory, yielding retention profiles that failed to match observed data. Subsequent incorporation of a limiting retention capacity expression into the mathematical model resulted in accurate predictions of the measured nC60 retention profiles and transport behavior. The sizable retention capacities observed in this study suggest that transport of nC60 is limited in relatively fine-textured soils containing appreciable amounts of clay minerals and organic matter, with substantial accumulation of nC60 aggregates near the point of release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1925-1933
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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