Sorption and desorption characteristics of anionic surfactants to soil sediments

Surfactants are important environmental chemicals due to their extensive domestic and industrial applications, such as subsurface organic pollution remediation and enhanced oil recovery. However, the interaction of surfactants with subsurface material particularly the desorption behaviour of surfactants is less understood. Surfactant desorption is essential to control the fate and transport of surfactants as well as organic pollutants. In this study, the sorption and desorption of linear sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate (SDBS) and sodium hexadecyl diphenyl oxide disulfonate (DPDS) with two types of soil sediment samples are compared. Sorption of surfactants can be modelled by hydrophobic sorption. Less DPDS sorption is observed at a higher aqueous concentration, which is attributed to the competition between surfactant micelles and sediment organic matter for DPDS sorption. A significant fraction of the sorbed surfactants resists desorption, and this is not a result of surfactant precipitation or desorption kinetics. Surfactant desorption behaviour is similar to the irreversible desorption of hydrocarbons from soil with only half of the resistant phase surfactant being readily extracted by heated solvent extraction. The sorption/desorption data are interpreted with a molecular topology and irreversible sorption model. The knowledge of this study can be useful in understanding the environmental fate and transport of these common anionic surfactants. The methodology developed in this study can be expanded to study the sorptive nature of a wider range of surfactants in the environment.

Authors: Zhang P, Liu Y, Li Z, Kan AT, Tomson MB. ; Full Source: Chemosphere. 2018 Nov; 211:1183-1192. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2018.08.051. Epub 2018 Aug 13.