Acidities of confined water in interlayer space of clay minerals

XD Liu and XC Lu and RC Wang and EJ Meijer and HQ Zhou, GEOCHIMICA ET COSMOCHIMICA ACTA, 75, 4978-4986 (2011).

DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2011.06.011

The acid chemistry of confined waters in smectite interlayers have been investigated with first principles molecular dynamics (FPMD) simulations. Aiming at a systematic picture, we establish the model systems to take account of the three possible controlling factors: layer charge densities (0 e, 0.5 e and 1.0 e per cell), layer charge locations (tetrahedral and octahedral) and interlayer counterions (Na+ and Mg2+). For all models, the interlayer structures are characterized in detail. Na+ and Mg2+ show significantly different hydration characteristics: Mg2+ forms a rigid octahedral hydration shell and resides around the midplane, whereas Na+ binds to a basal oxygen atom and forms a very flexible hydration shell, which consists of five waters on average and shows very fast water exchanges. The method of constraint is employed to enforce the water dissociation reactions and the thermodynamic integration approach is used to derive the free-energy values and the acidity constants. Based on the simulations, the following points have been gained. (1) The layer charge is found to be the direct origin of water acidity enhancement in smectites because the neutral pore almost does not have influences on water dissociations but all charged pores do. (2) With a moderate charge density of 0.5 e per cell, the interlayer water shows a pKa value around 11.5. While increasing layer charge density to 1.0 e, no obvious difference is found for the free water molecules. Since 1.0 e is at the upper limit of smectites' layer charge, it is proposed that the calculated acidity of free water in octahedrally substituted Mg2+-smectite, 11.3, can be taken as the lower limit of acidities of free waters. (3) In octahedrally and tetrahedrally substituted models, the bound waters of Mg2+ show very low pKa values: 10.1 vs 10.4. This evidences that smectites can also promote the dissociations of the coordinated waters of metal cations. The comparison between the two Mg2+-smectites reveals that different layer charge locations do not lead to obvious differences for bound and free water acidities. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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