The use of silica encapsulated DNA particles with a supermagnetic iron core (SiDNAMag) in sand filtration system: Effect of water chemistry

Ahmed Abdelrady*, Yuchen Tang, Thom Bogaard, Jan Willem Foppen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Sand filtration systems (SF) are a well-established approach in ensuring the availability of clean water. Understanding the transport properties of colloidal particles within SF systems is of paramount importance for optimizing their performance. This study investigated the potential utilization of silica-encapsulated DNA particles, equipped with a magnetic core to enhance particle separation and quantification efficiency (SiDNAMag). These particles were evaluated as tracers for delineating complex pathways and conducting source tracking within sand filtration (SF) systems for particulate substances. The study focused on exploring the sensitivity of SiDNAMag to solution chemistry, while elucidating the underlying mechanisms governing their transport and retention in sand filtration systems. Laboratory columns and HYDRUS-1D modeling were employed to analyze a range of water chemistry solutions, encompassing NaCl, NaHCO3, CaCl2, and MgCl2, with ionic strengths ranging from 0.1 mM to 20 mM. The results revealed that the transport of DNA-tagged silica particles could be described by a first-order kinetic attachment and detachment rate coefficient. Elevated ionic strengths consistently led to increased particle adhesion and decreased rates of detachment. The sticking efficiencies of SiDNAMag particles exhibited a range of 0.7 to 1. The remarkable adhesive effectiveness can be ascribed to the comparatively low negative charge exhibited by SiDNAMag particles. This leads to the creation of unstable colloids and encourages the aggregation of these colloidal particles, thereby limiting the potential application of these particles as a tracer. In conclusion, this work underlines the potential of SiDNAMag particles as a potential subsurface tracer. However, further research is warranted to investigate strategies for reducing the interaction between these particles and sand, particularly in response to the chemistry of the infiltrated water.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105316
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Water Process Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • DNA-tagged silica particles
  • Sand filtration system
  • Solution chemistry
  • Tracer
  • Transport


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