A Critical Look at Colloid Generation, Stability, and Transport in Redox-Dynamic Environments: Challenges and Perspectives

Eleanor Spielman-Sun, Kristin Boye, Dipankar Dwivedi, Maya Engel, Aaron Thompson, Naresh Kumar*, Vincent Noël

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Colloid generation, stability, and transport are important processes that can significantly influence the fate and transport of nutrients and contaminants in environmental systems. Here, we critically review the existing literature on colloids in redox-dynamic environments and summarize the current state of knowledge regarding the mechanisms of colloid generation and the chemical controls over colloidal behavior in such environments. We also identify critical gaps, such as the lack of universally accepted cross-discipline definition and modeling infrastructure that hamper an in-depth understanding of colloid generation, behavior, and transport potential. We propose to go beyond a size-based operational definition of colloids and consider the functional differences between colloids and dissolved species. We argue that to predict colloidal transport in redox-dynamic environments, more empirical data are needed to parametrize and validate models. We propose that colloids are critical components of element budgets in redox-dynamic systems and must urgently be considered in field as well as lab experiments and reactive transport models. We intend to bring further clarity and openness in reporting colloidal measurements and fate to improve consistency. Additionally, we suggest a methodological toolbox for examining impacts of redox dynamics on colloids in field and lab experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-653
Number of pages24
JournalACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2024


  • colloid transport modeling
  • colloidal stability
  • colloids
  • experiment vs model
  • nutrient and contaminant mobility
  • redox


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