Fate modeling of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in the water compartment by colloid chemistry
Conference contribution, 2009
Titanium dioxide is one of the most produced nanoparticles according to the Project of Emerging Nanotechnologies (www.nanotechproject.org). According to Mueller and Nowack (2008) it is also the nanoparticle that has the largest environmental concentration in the Swiss water compartment, 16 µg/l according to their high estimate. Further, Boxall et al. (2007) estimate a titanium dioxide nanoparticle environmental concentration of 24.5 µg/l in the UK water compartment for a scenario that probably overestimates the current exposure levels. However, neither of these risk models take fate processes such as aggregation and sedimentation into account. Colloid chemistry deals with particles within the size range of 1 nm to 1 µm. Nanoparticles of a size between one nanometer and a few hundred nanometers are thus well within the colloid range. Theories of colloid chemistry suggest that sedimentation of nanoparticles depends mainly on the density and the viscosity of the water and the density and size of the particles. Sedimentation is shown not to be an important factor, since the sedimentation of particles smaller than ~300 nm is negligible. Aggregation is a more complex process which depends on factors such as temperature, salinity, ion valence, pH, point of zero charge, the Hamaker constant, particle size and particle concentration (Elimelech et al. 1995). These factors were estimated for a typical Swedish lake and calculations were performed in MATLAB. The aggregation is modeled by kinetics according to Smoluchowski (1917) but adjusted according to the DLVO theory (see Elimelech et al. 1995). Preliminary results show that aggregation can reduce the predicted environmental concentration significantly in a short time. It would take less than 4 minutes for the initial environmental concentrations predicted by both Mueller and Nowack (2008) and Boxall et al. (2007) to be reduced by 50%. After 24 hours, both predicted environmental concentrations would have fallen below 0.1 µg/l.