Stability of commercial metal oxide nanoparticles in water

Yang Zhang, Yongsheng Chen, Paul Westerhoff, Kiril Hristovski, John C. Crittenden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

529 Scopus citations


The fate of commercial nanoparticles in water is of significant interest to health and regulatory authorities. This research investigated the dispersion and stability of metal oxide nanoparticles in water as well as their removal by potable water treatment processes. Commercial nanoparticles were received as powder aggregates, and in water neither ultrasound nor chemical dispersants could break them up into primary nanoparticles. Lab-synthesized hematite was prepared as a primary nanoparticle (85 nm) suspension; upon drying and 1-month storage, however, hematite formed aggregates that could not be dispersed completely as primary nanoparticles in water. This observation may explain why it is difficult to disperse dry commercial nanoparticles. Except for silica, other nanoparticles rapidly aggregated in tap water due to electric double layer (EDL) compression. The stability of silica in tap water is related to its low Hamaker constant. For all these nanoparticles, at an alum dosage of 60 mg/L, coagulation followed by sedimentation could remove 20-60% of the total nanoparticle mass. Filtration using a 0.45 μm filter was required to remove more than 90% of the nanoparticle mass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2204-2212
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Issue number8-9
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Aggregate
  • Disaggregate
  • Nanoparticles
  • Removal
  • Stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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