The intercalation of H2O, CO2, and other fluid species in expandable clay minerals (smectites) may play a significant role in controlling the behavior of these species in geological C-sequestration and enhanced petroleum production and has been the subject of intensive study in recent years. This paper reports the results of a computational study of the effects of the properties of the charge balancing, exchangeable cations on H2O and CO2 intercalation in the smectite mineral, hectorite, in equilibrium with an H2O-saturated supercritical CO2 fluid under reservoir conditions using Grand Canonical Molecular Dynamics (GCMD) methods. The results show that the intercalation behavior is greatly different with cations with relatively low hydration energies and high affinities for CO2 (here Cs+) than with cations with higher hydration energies (here Ca2+). With Cs+, CO2 intercalation occurs in a 1-layer structure and does not require H2O intercalation, whereas with Ca2+ the presence of a sub-monolayer of H2O is required for CO2 intercalation. The computational results provide detailed structural, dynamical and energetic insight into the differences in intercalation behavior and are in excellent agreement with in situ experimental XRD, IR, quartz crystal microbalance, and NMR results for smectite materials obtained under reservoir conditions.
In situ XRD and NMR experiments combined with molecular dynamics simulations using the grand canonical ensemble (GCMD) show that cation size, charge and solvation energy play critical roles in determining the interlayer expansion of smectite clay minerals when exposed to dry supercritical CO2 under conditions relevant to the earthâ€™s upper crust, petroleum reservoirs, and geological CO2 sequestration conditions (323 K and 90 bar). The GCMD results show that the smectite mineral, hectorite, containing interlayer alkali and alkaline earth cations with relatively small ionic radii and high solvation and hydration energies (e.g., Li+, Na+ Mg2+, and Ca2+) does not intercalate dry CO2 and that the fully collapsed interlayer structure is the energetically most stable configuration. With increasing cation size and decreasing cation solvation energy, the energy barrier to CO2 intercalation decreases. With K+, Rb+, Cs+, Sr2+, and Ba2+ the monolayer structure is the stable configuration, and CO2 should spontaneously enter the interlayer. With Cs+ there is not even an energy barrier for CO2 intercalation, in agreement with the experimental XRD and NMR results that show clay layer expansion and CO2 incorporation. The number of intercalated CO2 molecules decreases with increasing size of the alkali cation but does not vary with ion size for the alkaline earth cations. 13C NMR spectroscopy and the GCMD simulations show that the average orientation of the intercalated CO2 molecules is with their O-C-O axes parallel to the basal clay surface and that they undergo a combination of rapid rotation about an axis perpendicular to the main molecular axis and wobbling motion with respect to the basal surface. Incorporation of CO2 in the interlayer decreases the coordination of Cs+ by the oxygen atoms of the basal surfaces, which is compensated by CO2 molecules entering their solvation shell, as predicted based on previously published NMR results. The GCMD simulations show that the strength of the interaction between the exchangeable cation and the clay structure dominates the intercalation energetics in dry scCO2. With relatively small cations, the cation-clay interactions outcompete cation solvation by CO2 molecules. The computed residence times for coordination among of interlayer species are consistent with the computed energetics.
Professor Yuri E. Gorbatywas born 30 July 1932 in the city Grozny, in the Soviet Union. He has graduated from the Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology,Moscow, in 1955. He has got his Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) degree in 1963 for his work on “Non-equilibrium crystallization of the three-componentmelts”, and later in 1988 he was awarded a Doctor of Sciences degree for the work “The effect of temperature and pressure on the nearest ordering in liquid and supercritical water”. Between these two dates and then later in his scientific career Yuri E. Gorbaty has become one of the leading experts in the field of experimental studies of the structure and properties of fluids, especially aqueous fluids at high temperatures and pressures, by methods of IR and Raman spectroscopy and by X-ray diffraction.