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J Phys Chem A. 2014 Sep 4;118(35):7469-88. doi: 10.1021/jp500271n. Epub 2014 Apr 25.

Ab initio thermodynamic model for magnesium carbonates and hydrates.

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, P.O. Box 999, MS K8-96, Richland, Washington 99352, United States.


An ab initio thermodynamic framework for predicting properties of hydrated magnesium carbonate minerals has been developed using density-functional theory linked to macroscopic thermodynamics through the experimental chemical potentials for MgO, water, and CO2. Including semiempirical dispersion via the Grimme method and small corrections to the generalized gradient approximation of Perdew, Burke, and Ernzerhof for the heat of formation yields a model with quantitative agreement for the benchmark minerals brucite, magnesite, nesquehonite, and hydromagnesite. The model shows how small differences in experimental conditions determine whether nesquehonite, hydromagnesite, or magnesite is the result of laboratory synthesis from carbonation of brucite, and what transformations are expected to occur on geological time scales. Because of the reliance on parameter-free first-principles methods, the model is reliably extensible to experimental conditions not readily accessible to experiment and to any mineral composition for which the structure is known or can be hypothesized, including structures containing defects, substitutions, or transitional structures during solid state transformations induced by temperature changes or processes such as water, CO2, or O2 diffusion. Demonstrated applications of the ab initio thermodynamic framework include an independent means to evaluate differences in thermodynamic data for lansfordite, predicting the properties of Mg analogues of Ca-based hydrated carbonates monohydrocalcite and ikaite, which have not been observed in nature, and an estimation of the thermodynamics of barringtonite from the stoichiometry and a single experimental observation.

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