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Environ Sci Technol. 2014 May 20;48(10):5745-53. doi: 10.1021/es405141j. Epub 2014 May 5.

Interfacial energies for heterogeneous nucleation of calcium carbonate on mica and quartz.

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Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis , St. Louis, Missouri 63130, United States.


Interfacial free energies often control heterogeneous nucleation of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) on mineral surfaces. Here we report an in situ experimental study of CaCO3 nucleation on mica (muscovite) and quartz, which allows us to obtain the interfacial energies governing heterogeneous nucleation. In situ grazing incidence small-angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS) was used to measure nucleation rates at different supersaturations. The rates were incorporated into classical nucleation theory to calculate the effective interfacial energies (α'). Ex situ Raman spectroscopy identified both calcite and vaterite as CaCO3 polymorphs; however, vaterite is the most probable heterogeneous nuclei mineral phase. The α' was 24 mJ/m(2) for the vaterite-mica system and 32 mJ/m(2) for the vaterite-quartz system. The smaller α' of the CaCO3-mica system led to smaller particles and often higher particle densities on mica. A contributing factor affecting α' in our system was the smaller structural mismatch between CaCO3 and mica compared to that between CaCO3 and quartz. The extent of hydrophilicity and the surface charge could not explain the observed CaCO3 nucleation trend on mica and quartz. The findings of this study provide new thermodynamic parameters for subsurface reactive transport modeling and contribute to our understanding of mechanisms where CaCO3 formation on surfaces is of concern.

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