Insight on the application of graphene to sandy soils to improve water holding capacity

Submitted: 7 August 2022
Accepted: 21 November 2022
Published: 20 December 2022
Abstract Views: 330
PDF: 206
Publisher's note
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


In this study, the changes in relevant hydraulic parameters (namely hydraulic conductivity, total and effective porosity, specific retention, and longitudinal dispersivity) induced by the introduction of graphene in a calcareous sandy soil and a siliciclastic riverine soil were monitored and modelled via leaching column experiments. Constant pressure head tests were used to calculate the hydraulic conductivity of each column, while leaching experiments were run to estimate total porosity and specific retention, and for each treatment three replicates were done. Columns were then run under saturated conditions via a low flow peristaltic pump and monitored for chloride concentrations. CXTFIT 2.0 was employed to inversely model the column experiments and retrieve effective porosity and longitudinal dispersivity. Results highlighted small changes of hydraulic conductivity and porosity, induced by graphene addition for both soils. A marked increase of specific retention values was instead recorded in the amended columns respect to control ones. Chloride breakthrough curves modelling showed that graphene doubled dispersivity in the calcareous sandy soil compared to the control, while it halved dispersivity in the siliciclastic riverine soil with respect to the control. The results highlight that graphene induces positive shift in the capacity of sandy soil to retain porewater but at the same time it also alters solute transport parameters, like dispersivity, suggesting that further studies need to focus on using several exposure concentrations, durations and mode of exposure, and apply simulated field conditions or perform experiments in real field conditions, to understand the fate of unwanted compound in soils amended with graphene.

Alessandrino L, Colombani N, Eusebi AL, Aschonitis V, Mastrocicco M (2022a) Testing graphene versus classical soil improvers in a sandy Calcisol. Catena 208, 105754. DOI:

Alessandrino L, Eusebi AL, Aschonitis V, Mastrocicco M, Colombani N (2022b) Variation of the hydraulic properties in sandy soils induced by the addition of graphene and classical soil improvers. J. Hydrol. 612, 128256. DOI:

Argo WR, Biernbaum, JA (1995). The effect of irrigation method, water-soluble fertilization, replant nutrient charge, and surface evaporation on early vegetative and root growth of Poinsettia. J. Am. Soc. Hortic. 120, 2, 163-169. DOI:

Awasthi G, Kumar A, Awasthi KK, Singh AP, Srivastva S, Vajpayee P, Mishra K, Tripathi RD (2016) Green synthesis of nanoparticles: an emerging phyotechnology. In: Singh R, Kumar S (eds) Green technologies and environmental sustainability. Springer, Berlin, pp. 339–363. DOI:

Ballabio C, Panagos P, Montanarella L (2016) Mapping topsoil physical properties at European scale using the LUCAS database. Geoderma, 261, 110-123. DOI:

Bates BC, Kundzewicz ZW, Wu S, Palutikof JP (2008) Climate Change and Water, IPCC Technical Paper VI, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Secretariat. Geneva, Switzerland, pp. 210.

Begum P, Ikhtiari R, Fugetsu B (2011) Graphene phytotoxicity in the seedling stage of cabbage, tomato, red spinach, and lettuce. Carbon 49(12), 3907-3919. DOI:

Bhushan B (2007) Nanotechnology: a boon or bane? AIP Conf Proc 929, 250–253. DOI:

Dafny E, Šimůnek J (2016). Infiltration in layered loessial deposits: Revised numerical simulations and recharge assessment. J. Hydrol. 538, 339–354. DOI:

Chen Z, Qian Jz, Qin H (2011) Experimental Study of the Non-Darcy Flow and Solute Transport in a Channeled Single Fracture. J. Hydrodyn 23, 745–751. DOI:

Chng EL, Pumera M (2013) The toxicity of graphene oxides: dependence on the oxidative methods used. Chemistry 19, 8227e35. DOI:

Costantini EAC, Dazzi C (2013) The soils of Italy. Springer Dordrecht, Netherlands. DOI:

Cronican AE, Gribb MM (2004) Hydraulic conductivity prediction for sandy soils. Groundwater 42(3), 459-464. DOI:

Domenico PA, Schwartz FW (1990) Physical and Chemical Hydrogeology. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 824 pp. ISBN: 978-0-471-59762-9.

Duhan JS, Kumar R, Kumar N, Kaur P, Nehra K, Duhan S (2017) Nanotechnology: the new perspective in precision agriculture. Biotechnol. Rep. 15, 11–23. DOI:

Earth data (2018) Terra and Aqua Combined Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Land Cover Type (MCD12Q1) Version 6 Data. Accessed from

FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2022) Crop Prospects and Food Situation – Quarterly Global Report No. 1. Rome, Italy. DOI:

FAO and UN Water (2021) Progress on change in water-use efficiency. Global status and acceleration needs for SDG indicator 6.4.1. Rome, Italy. DOI:

Fernandez-Illescas CP, Porporato A, Laio F, Rodriguez-Iturbe I (2001) The ecohydrological role of soil texture in a water-limited ecosystem. Water Resour. Res. 37(12), 2863–2872. DOI:

Gerke HH, van Genuchten MT (1993) A dual-porosity model for simulating the preferential movement of water and solutes in structured porous media. Water Resour. Res. 29(2), 305-319. DOI:

Giorgi F (2019) Thirty Years of Regional Climate Modeling: Where Are We and Where Are We Going next? J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 124, 5696–5723. doi:10.1029/2018JD030094 DOI:

Goodwin DG Jr, Adeleye AS, Sung L, Ho KT, Burgess RM, Petersen EJ (2018) Detection and Quantification of Graphene-Family Nanomaterials in the Environment. Environ. Sci. Technol. 52 (8), 4491-4513. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b04938 DOI:

Gottschalk F, Nowack B (2011) The release of engineered nanomaterials to the environment. Environ. Monit. Assess. 13(5), 1145–1155. DOI:

Heath RC (1983) Basic ground-water hydrology. U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Supply Paper 2220, pp. 86. DOI:

Hengl T, de Jesus JM, Heuvelink GB, Gonzalez MR, Kilibarda M, Blagotić A, Shangguan W, Wright MN, Geng X, Bauer-Marschallinger B, Guevara MA, Vargas R, MacMillan RA, Batjes NH, Leenaars JGB, Ribeiro E, Wheeler I, Mantel S, Kempen B (2017) SoilGrids250m: Global gridded soil information based on machine learning. PLoS One 12(2), e0169748. DOI:

Joanna F, Kazimierz G (2013). Evaluation of zeolite-sand mixtures as reactive materials protecting groundwater at waste disposal sites Res. J. Environ. Sci. 25, 1764–1772. DOI:

Johnson AC, Park B (2012) Predicting contamination by the fuel additive cerium oxide engineered nanoparticles within the United Kingdom and the associated risks. Environ Toxicol Chem 31(11):2582–2587 DOI:

Khan I, Saeed K, Khan I (2017) Nanoparticles: properties, applications and toxicities. Arab. J. Chem. 12(7), 908-931. DOI:

Koo Y, Wang J, Zhang Q, Zhu H, Chehab EW, Colvin VL, Alvarez PJJ, Braam J (2015) Fluorescence reports intact quantum dot uptake into roots and translocation to leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana and subsequent ingestion by insect herbivores. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 626–632. DOI:

Kumar A, Gupta K, Dixit S, Mishra K, Srivastava S (2019) A review on positive and negative impacts of nanotechnology in agriculture. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 16(4), 2175-2184. DOI:

Lozano E, García-Orenes F, Bárcenas-Moreno G, Jiménez-Pinilla P, MataiX-Solera J, Arcenegui V, Morugán-Coronado A, MataiX-Beneyto J (2014) Relationships between soil water re- pellency and microbial community composition under different plant species in a Mediterranean semiarid forest. J. Hydrol. Hydromech. 62(2), 101–107. DOI:

Mahmoodlu M, Raoof A, van Genuchten M (2021) Effect of soil textural characteristics on longitudinal dispersion in saturated porous media. J. Hydrol. Hydromec. 69(2), 161-170. DOI:

Marquardt, DW (1963) An algorithm for least-squares estimation of nonlinear parameters. J. Soc. Ind. Appl. Math. 11(2), 431-441. DOI:

Mastrocicco, M., Prommer, H., Pasti, L., Palpacelli, S., Colombani, N. (2011) Evaluation of saline tracer performance during electrical conductivity groundwater monitoring. J. Cont. Hydrol. 123(3-4), 157-166. DOI:

Moradi G, Mehdinejadiani B (2018) Modelling solute transport in homogeneous and heterogeneous porous media using spatial fractional advection-dispersion equation. Soil Water Res. 13(1), 18-28. DOI:

Morales-Díaz AB, Ortega-Ortíz H, Juárez-Maldonado A, Cadenas-Pliego G, González-Morales S, Benavides-Mendoza A (2017) Application of nanoelements in plant nutrition and its impact in ecosystems. Adv Nat Sci Nanosci Nanotechnol 8(1), 013001. DOI:

Nel A, Xia T, Madler L, Li N (2006) Toxic potential of materials at the nano level. Science 311, 622–627. DOI:

Nicolodi M, Gianello C (2014) Understanding soil as an open system and fertility as an emergent property of the soil system. Sustain. Agric. Res. 4(1), 94. DOI:

Ramanathan V, Crutzen PJ, Kiehl JT, Rosenfeld D (2001) Aerosols, Climate, and the Hydrological Cycle. Science 294, 2119–2124. DOI:

Reichert JM, Amado TJC, Reinert DJ, Rodrigues MF, Suzuki LEAS (2016). Land use effects on subtropical, sandy soil under sandyzation/desertification processes. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 233, 370–380. DOI:

Roco MC (2003) Nanotechnology: convergence with modern biology and medicine. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 14(3), 337–346. DOI:

Sanchez VC, Jachak A, Hurt RH, Kane AB (2012) Biological interactions of graphene-family nanomaterials: an interdisciplinary review. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 25, 15e34. DOI:

Singhal J, Verma S, Kumar S (2022) The physio-chemical properties and applications of 2D nanomaterials in agricultural and environmental sustainability. Sci. Total Environ. 837, 155669. DOI:

Tarchitzky J, Lerner O, Shani U, Arye GLAA, Lowengart-Aycicegi A, Brener A, Chen Y (2007) Water distribution pattern in treated wastewater irrigated soils: hy- drophobicity effect. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 58(3), 573–588. DOI:

Toride N, Leij FJ, van Genuchten MT (1999) The CXTFIT code (version 2.1) for estimating transport parameters from laboratory or field tracer experiments. Research Report 137. U.S. Salinity Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Riverside, California.

United Nation (UN) Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2022) The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, available at:

Van Genuchten MT, Šimunek J, Leij FJ, Toride N, Šejna M (2012) STANMOD: Model use, calibration, and validation. Trans. ASABE 55(4), 1355-1366. DOI:

Verma SK, Das AK, Gantait S, Kumar V, Gurel E (2019) Applications of carbon nanomaterials in the plant system: A perspective view on the pros and cons. Sci. Total Environ. 667, 485-499. DOI:

Xu M, Eckstein Y (1997) Statistical Analysis of the Relationships Between Dispersivity and Other Physical Properties of Porous Media. Hydrogeol. J. 5, 4-20. DOI:

Zhao J, Lin M, Wang Z, Cao X, Xing B (2021) Engineered nanomaterials in the environment: Are they safe? Critical Rev. Environ. Sci. Technol. 51 (14), 1443-1478. DOI:

Alessandrino, L., & Mastrocicco, M. (2022). Insight on the application of graphene to sandy soils to improve water holding capacity. Acque Sotterranee - Italian Journal of Groundwater, 11(4), 35–41.


Download data is not yet available.