Master theses: Effect of the carbonate minerals on the transport and retention of engineered silver nanoparticles in saturated porous media

Engineered silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are commonly used in various consumer products such as clothing or personal care products due to their antimicrobial properties. Yet, the behavior (fate and transport) of nanoparticles in the environment is still under investigation.



In the context of the project Nanomobil, funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), transport and retention of surfactant and polymer stabilized AgNPs in silicate and carbonate dominated aquifer material are investigated. Investigations started with small scale lab column tests and are being followed by bigger column experiments to test for scale-dependency. Finally, the long-term transport behavior will be studied in an aquifer tank.


Goal of thesis:

The main objective of the M.Sc. thesis project is to investigate the effect of varying carbonate content on the transport and retention behavior of surfactant stabilized AgNPs (OECD reference material NM-300K) in small lab columns. So far, no publications regarding the transport of AgNPs in carbonate dominated aquifer materials are published. The work will provide the basis for further long-term experiments in lab columns and aquifer tanks.


Work packages:

In general, you will study the effects of different carbonate contents on the transport behavior of AgNPs and create breakthrough curves and retention profiles for the experiments. Analysis of the silver concentration in the samples will be analyzed using Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).

In detail, the following work packages are intended:

·         get familiar with colloid and nanoparticle transport fundamentals;

·         get familiar with ICP-MS theory;

·         conduct conductivity experiments for each lab column (falling head method);

·         conduct tracer experiments for each lab column for hydraulic characterization;

·         investigate the transport behavior of surfactant stabilized AgNPs;

·         model the breakthrough curves using HYDRUS-1D;

·         interpret the gathered data by comparing your results with readily published data.


Prof. Thomas Rüde

Yorck Adrian, Uwe Schneidewind

Startin date: 01.03.2017 (anticipated)

Lehrstuhl für Ingenieurgeologie und Hydrogeologie der RWTH-Aachen

Univ-Prof. Dr. Florian Amann

Lochnerstr. 4-20
D-52064 Aachen

Telefon: +49 - (0)241/80-95741
Telefax: +49 - (0)241/80-92280

Lehr- und Forschungsgebiet Hydrogeologie

Univ-Prof. Dr. Thomas R. Rüde

Lochnerstr. 4-20
D-52064 Aachen

Telefon: +49 - (0)241/80-95741
Telefax: +49 - (0)241/80-92280

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