Ren H. Luo, Huan J. Keh

The electrophoresis and electric conduction of a suspension of charged spherical particles in a salt-free solution are analyzed by using a unit cell model. The linearized Poisson-Boltzmann equation (valid for the cases of relatively low surface charge density or high volume fraction of the particles) and Laplace equation are solved for the equilibrium electric potential profile and its perturbation caused by the imposed electric field, respectively, in the fluid containing the counterions only around the particle, and the ionic continuity equation and modified Stokes equations are solved for the electrochemical potential energy and fluid flow fields, respectively. Explicit analytical formulas for the electrophoretic mobility of the particles and effective electric conductivity of the suspension are obtained, and the particle interaction effects on these transport properties are significant and interesting. The scaled zeta potential, electrophoretic mobility, and effective electric conductivity increase monotonically with an increase in the scaled surface charge density of the particles and in general decrease with an increase in the particle volume fraction, keeping each other parameter unchanged. Under the Debye-Hückel approximation, the dependence of the electrophoretic mobility normalized with the surface charge density on the ratio of the particle radius to the Debye screening length and particle volume fraction in a salt-free suspension is same as that in a salt-containing suspension, but the variation of the effective electric conductivity with the particle volume fraction in a salt-free suspension is found to be quite different from that in a suspension containing added electrolyte.