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Physical-Chemical Surface Characterization of Lake Nasser Sediments

Authors: Yousra M. Zakaria Helmy, Edward H. Smith


Lake Nasser is one of the largest reservoirs in the world. Over 120 million metric tons of sediments are deposited in its dead storage zone every year. The main objective of the present work was to determine the physical and chemical characteristics of Lake Nasser sediments. The sample had a relatively low surface area of 2.9 m2/g which increased more than 3-fold upon chemical activation. The main chemical elements of the raw sediments were C, O and Si with some traces of Al, Fe and Ca. The organic functional groups for the tested sample included O-H, C=C, C-H and C-O, with indications of Si-O and other metal-C and/or metal-O bonds normally associated with clayey materials. Potentiometric titration of the sample in different ionic strength backgrounds revealed an alkaline material with very strong positive surface charge at pH values just a little less than the pH of zero charge which is ~9. Surface interactions of the sediments with the background electrolyte were significant. An advanced surface complexation model was able to capture these effects, employing a single-site approach to represent protolysis reactions in aqueous solution, and to determine the significant surface species in the pH range of environmental interest.

Keywords: Sediments, surface characterization, Lake Nasser

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