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Effect of particle size on the capture of uranium oxide colloidal particles from aqueous suspensions via high-gradient magnetic filtration

by Alexander Wiechert, Sotira Yiacoumi, Joanna Mcfarlane, Charles F Weber, Constantinos Tsouris
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Colloids and Surfaces C: Environmental Aspects
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The effectiveness of High Gradient Magnetic Filtration (HGMF) in capturing uranium oxide particles from suspensions was investigated in this study. Two sets of experiments were performed to evaluate the importance of size on the capture of uranium oxide particles. The first considered two batches sieved into size bins of< 5, 5–10, 10–15, and 15–20 µm, while the second was performed using two suspensions with diameters smaller than 1.0 µm and between 1.0 and 1.5 µm. Iron oxide experiments, with particles between 0.3 and 0.8 µm, were performed for calibration purposes. In all experiments, a surfactant (Triton-X100 or sodium dodecyl sulfate) was used to prevent particle aggregation and limit the influence of non-magnetic capture mechanisms. A magnetic field of approximately 1.1 Tesla was generated using a water cooled electromagnet. HGMF was performed using tubular filters packed with ferromagnetic stainless-steel wool. Of the initial four uranium oxide particle sizes, magnetic capture was only observed for particles with a diameter of less than 5 µm, while larger particles experienced no magnetic and minimal total capture. For particles with diameters smaller than 1.0 µm and between 1.0 and 1.5 µm, capture efficiencies increased by 39 ± 9% and 34 ± 6% respectively, solely due to the magnetic field. Although the magnetic force is proportional to particle diameter, the capture efficiency decreased as diameter increased. These results suggest that Brownian diffusion, which is influential for micron sized particles and increases with decreasing particle size, is acting in conjunction with the magnetic force to influence the efficacy of HGMF for uranium oxide. This important finding underscores the effectiveness of Brownian diffusion in increasing the rate of collision between particles and collector fibers. A stochastic trajectory model was developed to incorporate the influence of Brownian motion on particle behavior and filter removal efficiency. Modeling results are discussed and compared for uranium and iron oxide particles.