Effect of colloids on non-Fickian transport of strontium in sediments elucidated by continuous-time random walk analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Dong-Xu Liu
  • Rui Zuo
  • Jin-Sheng Wang
  • Li-Tang Hu
  • Liu-Xing Huang


Understanding the influence of colloids on radionuclide migration is of significance to evaluate envi- ronmental risks for radioactive waste disposals. In order to formulate an appropriate modelling frame- work that can quantify and interpret the anomalous transport of Strontium (Sr) in the absence and presence of colloids, the continuous time random walk (CTRW) approach is implemented in this work using available experimental information. The results show that the transport of Sr and its recovery are enhanced in the presence of colloids. The causes can be largely attributed to the trap-release processes, e.g. electrostatic interactions of Sr, colloids and natural sediments, and differences in pore structures, which gave rise to the varying interstitial velocities of dissolved and, if any, colloid-associated Sr. Good agreement between the CTRW simulations and the column-scale observations is demonstrated. Regardless of the presence of colloids, the CTRW modelling captures the characteristics of non-Fickian anomalous transport (0<b<2) of Sr. In particular, a range of 0<b<1, corresponding to the cases with greater recoveries, reveal strongly non-Fickian transport with distinctive earlier arrivals and tailing effects, likely due to the physicochemical heterogeneities, i.e. the repulsive interactions and/or the macro-pores originating from local heterogeneities. The results imply that colloids can increase the Sr transport as a barrier of Sr sorption onto sediments herein, apart from often being carriers of sored radionuclides in aqueous phase. From a modelling perspective, the findings show that the established CTRW model is valid for quantifying the non-Fickian and promoted transport of Sr with colloids.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1491-1499
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue numberB
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2019