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Targeted nanoparticle binding & detection in petroleum hydrocarbon impacted porous media

Linley, Stuart, Holmes, Andrew, Leshuk, Timothy, Nafo, Wanis, Thomson, Neil R., Al-Mayah, Adil, McVey, Kevin, Sra, Kanwartej, Gu, Frank X.
Chemosphere 2019 v.215 pp. 353-361
adsorption, coatings, geophysics, hydrophobicity, image analysis, iron oxides, micro-computed tomography, monitoring, nanoparticles, petroleum, polymers, porous media, quartz, remediation, tissues
Targeted nanoparticle binding has become a core feature of experimental pharmaceutical product design which enables more efficient payload delivery and enhances medical imaging by accumulating nanoparticles in specific tissues. Environmental remediation and geophysical monitoring encounter similar challenges which may be addressed in part by the adoption of targeted nanoparticle binding strategies. This study illustrates that engineered nanoparticles can bind to crude oil-impacted silica sand, a selective adsorption driven by active targeting based on an amphiphilic polymer coating. This coating strategy resulted in 2 mg/kg attachment to clean silica sand compared to 8 mg/kg attachment to oil-impacted silica sand. It was also shown that modifying the surface coating influenced the binding behaviour of the engineered nanoparticles – more hydrophobic polymers resulted in increased binding. Successful targeting of Pluronic-coated iron oxide nanoparticles to a crude oil and silica sand mixture was demonstrated through a combined quantitative Orbital Emission Spectroscopy mass analysis supported by Vibrating Scanning Magnetometer magnetometry, and a qualitative X-ray micro-computed tomography (CT) visualization approach. These non-destructive characterization techniques facilitated efficient analysis of nanoparticles in porous medium samples with minimal sample preparation, and in the case of X-Ray CT, illustrated how targeted nanoparticle binding may be used to produce 3-D images of contaminated porous media. This work demonstrated successful implementation of nanoparticle targeted binding toward viscous LNAPL such as crude oil in the presence of a porous medium, a step which opens the door to successful application of targeted delivery technology in environmental remediation and monitoring.