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J Colloid Interface Sci. 2011 Aug 15;360(2):701-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2011.04.063. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

Molecular dynamics simulations of the electrical double layer on smectite surfaces contacting concentrated mixed electrolyte (NaCl-CaCl2) solutions.

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Geochemistry Department, Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab., Berkeley, CA 94720-8126, USA.


We report new molecular dynamics results elucidating the structure of the electrical double layer (EDL) on smectite surfaces contacting mixed NaCl-CaCl(2) electrolyte solutions in the range of concentrations relevant to pore waters in geologic repositories for CO(2) or high-level radioactive waste (0.34-1.83 mol(c) dm(-3)). Our results confirm the existence of three distinct ion adsorption planes (0-, β-, and d-planes), often assumed in EDL models, but with two important qualifications: (1) the location of the β- and d-planes are independent of ionic strength or ion type and (2) "indifferent electrolyte" ions can occupy all three planes. Charge inversion occurred in the diffuse ion swarm because of the affinity of the clay surface for CaCl(+) ion pairs. Therefore, at concentrations ≥0.34 mol(c) dm(-3), properties arising from long-range electrostatics at interfaces (electrophoresis, electro-osmosis, co-ion exclusion, colloidal aggregation) will not be correctly predicted by most EDL models. Co-ion exclusion, typically neglected by surface speciation models, balanced a large part of the clay mineral structural charge in the more concentrated solutions. Water molecules and ions diffused relatively rapidly even in the first statistical water monolayer, contradicting reports of rigid "ice-like" structures for water on clay mineral surfaces.


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