Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Management


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Willie F. Harper, Jr. PhD, P.E.


Virus adsorption to colloidal particles is an important issue in the water quality community, and it is a particularly important issue for conventional wastewater treatment plants that accept biohazardous waste. Colloids impact the transport of viruses in engineered treatment systems, and they also provide protection against oxidants and other destructive mechanisms. This study evaluated the adsorption of bacteriophage MS2 to colloidal suspensions of kaolinite (KAO) and fiberglass (FG). A series of laboratory batch tests were carried out over a range of experimental conditions to determine kinetic rate constants and characterize bond strength, and computational experiments were done to assess both adsorption and aggregation of MS2. First order removal rate constants were faster by an order of magnitude than previously reported values, and between 2.5 – 2.8 min-1 and 0.4 – 2.8 min -1 for KAO and FG, respectively. By the first sampling time following inoculation, significant MS2 adsorption was observed across all experimental conditions. Qualitative evidence of MS2 adsorption was collected with a large panel of fluorescent and bright field microscopic images, which showed clusters of MS2 on and around the colloidal particles. At the end of the two-hour FG experiment, 55.2% - 80.8% of the adsorbed MS2 was tightly bound, meaning that it was not readily removed during the wash step. For KAO, 54.8% - 87.9% of the adsorbed MS2 was tightly bound. This implies MS2 has a stronger affinity for KAO than FG. MS2 aggregation was also observed experimentally and was predicted on the basis of XDLVO models. These results show that clusters of viruses can quickly and strongly attach to colloids in a dynamic system, potentially leading to colloidal particles transporting and protecting viruses. Water resource recovery facilities (WRRF) need to pay attention to colloidal particles when treating biohazardous wastes.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number