Hydration Phase Diagram of Clay Particles from Molecular Simulations

T Honorio and L Brochard and M Vandamme, LANGMUIR, 33, 12766-12776 (2017).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b03198

Adsorption plays a fundamental role in the behavior of clays. Because of the confinement between solid clay layers on the nanoscale, adsorbed water is structured in layers, which can occupy a specific volume. The transition between these states is intimately related to key features of clay thermo-hydro-mechanical behavior. In this article, we consider the hydration states of clays as phases and the transition between these states as phase changes. The thermodynamic formulation supporting this idea is presented. Then, the results from grand canonical Monte Carlo simulations of sodium montmorillonite are used to derive hydration phase diagrams. The stability analysis presented here explains the coexistence of different hydration states at clay particle scale and improves our understanding of the irreversibilities of clay thermo-hydro-mechanical behavior. Our results provide insights into the mechanics of the elementary constituents of clays, which is crucial for a better understanding of the macroscopic behavior of clay-rich rocks and soils.

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