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Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Anion Exclusion in Clay Interlayer Nanopores

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The aqueous chemistry of water films confined between clay mineral surfaces remains an important unknown in predictions of radioelement migration from radioactive waste repositories. This issue is particularly important in the case of long-lived anionic radioisotopes (129I, 99TcO 4, 36Cl) which interact with clay minerals primarily by anion exclusion. For example, models of ion migration in clayey media do not agree as to whether anions are completely or partially excluded from clay interlayer nanopores. In the present study, this key issue was addressed for Cl using MD simulations for a range of nanopore widths (6 to 15 Å) overlapping the range of average pore widths that exists in engineered clay barriers. The MD simulation results were compared with the predictions of a thermodynamic model (Donnan Equilibrium model) and two pore-scale models based on the Poisson-Boltzmann equation under the assumption that interlayer water behaves as bulk liquid water. The simulations confirmed that anion exclusion from clay interlayers is greater than predicted by the pore-scale models, particularly at the smallest pore size examined. This greater anion exclusion stems from Cl being more weakly solvated in nano-confined water than it is in bulk liquid water. Anion exclusion predictions based on the Poisson-Boltzmann equation were consistent with the MD simulation results, however, if the predictions included an ion closest approach distance to the clay mineral surface on the order of 2.0 ± 0.8 Å. These findings suggest that clay interlayers approach a state of complete anion exclusion (hence, ideal semi-permeable membrane properties) at a pore width of 4.2 ± 1.5 Å.
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Keywords: ANION EXCLUSION; CLAY; DONNAN EQUILIBRIUM MODEL; INTERLAYER; MOLECULAR DYNAMICS; NANOPORES; POISSON-BOLTZMANN; SEMI-PERMEABLE MEMBRANE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2016

This article was made available online on 22 July 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "PREPUBLICATION: Molecular dynamics simulations of anion 1 exclusion in clay interlayer nanopores".

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  • The JOURNAL publishes articles of interest to the international community of clay scientists, including but not limited to areas in mineralogy, crystallography, geology, geochemistry, sedimentology, soil science, agronomy, physical chemistry, colloid chemistry, ceramics, petroleum engineering, foundry engineering, and soil mechanics. Clays and Clay Minerals exists to disseminate to its worldwide readership the most recent developments in all of these aspects of clay materials. Manuscripts are welcome from all countries.

    Clays and Clay Minerals is the official publication of The Clay Minerals Society.

    The Editor-in-Chief is Professor Joseph W. Stucki [email protected]

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