Swelling Properties of Montmorillonite and Beidellite Clay Minerals from Molecular Simulation: Comparison of Temperature, Interlayer Cation, and Charge Location Effects

SL Teich-McGoldrick and JA Greathouse and CF Jove-Colon and RT Cygan, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 119, 20880-20891 (2015).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b03253

The swelling properties of smectite clay minerals are relevant to many engineering applications including environmental remediation, repository design for nuclear waste disposal, borehole stability in drilling operations, and additives for numerous industrial processes and commercial products. We used molecular dynamics and grand canonical Monte Carlo simulations to study the effects of layer charge location, interlayer cation, and temperature on intracrystalline swelling of montmorillonite and beidellite clay minerals. For a beidellite model with layer charge exclusively in the tetrahedral sheet, strong ion surface interactions shift the onset of the two-layer hydrate to higher water contents. In contrast, for a montmorillonite model with layer charge exclusively in the octahedral sheet, weaker ion-surface interactions result in the formation of fully hydrated ions (two-layer hydrate) at much lower water contents. Clay hydration enthalpies and interlayer atomic density profiles are consistent with the swelling results. Water adsorption isotherms from grand canonical Monte Carlo simulations are used to relate interlayer hydration states to relative humidity, in good agreement with experimental findings.

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