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Geochem Trans. 2009 Jan 14;10:1. doi: 10.1186/1467-4866-10-1.

Transformation of meta-stable calcium silicate hydrates to tobermorite: reaction kinetics and molecular structure from XRD and NMR spectroscopy.

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Chemistry, Materials, Earth, and Life Sciences Directorate, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550, USA.


Understanding the integrity of well-bore systems that are lined with Portland-based cements is critical to the successful storage of sequestered CO2 in gas and oil reservoirs. As a first step, we investigate reaction rates and mechanistic pathways for cement mineral growth in the absence of CO2 by coupling water chemistry with XRD and NMR spectroscopic data. We find that semi-crystalline calcium (alumino-)silicate hydrate (Al-CSH) forms as a precursor solid to the cement mineral tobermorite. Rate constants for tobermorite growth were found to be k = 0.6 (+/- 0.1) x 10(-5) s(-1) for a solution:solid of 10:1 and 1.6 (+/- 0.8) x 10(-4) s(-1) for a solution:solid of 5:1 (batch mode; T = 150 degrees C). This data indicates that reaction rates for tobermorite growth are faster when the solution volume is reduced by half, suggesting that rates are dependent on solution saturation and that the Gibbs free energy is the reaction driver. However, calculated solution saturation indexes for Al-CSH and tobermorite differ by less than one log unit, which is within the measured uncertainty. Based on this data, we consider both heterogeneous nucleation as the thermodynamic driver and internal restructuring as possible mechanistic pathways for growth. We also use NMR spectroscopy to characterize the site symmetry and bonding environment of Al and Si in a reacted tobermorite sample. We find two [4]Al coordination structures at delta iso = 59.9 ppm and 66.3 ppm with quadrupolar product parameters (PQ) of 0.21 MHz and 0.10 MHz (+/- 0.08) from 27Al 3Q-MAS NMR and speculate on the Al occupancy of framework sites by probing the protonation environment of Al metal centers using 27Al{1H}CP-MAS NMR.

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