Diffusion and Gas Flow Dynamics in Partially Saturated Smectites.

Owusu, Jerry P; Karalis, Konstantinos; Prasianakis, Nikolaos I; Churakov, Sergey V (2023). Diffusion and Gas Flow Dynamics in Partially Saturated Smectites. The journal of physical chemistry. C, Nanomaterials and interfaces, 127(29), pp. 14425-14438. ACS Publications 10.1021/acs.jpcc.3c02264

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Clays and clay rocks are considered good natural and engineered barriers for deep geological disposal of nuclear waste worldwide. Metal corrosion and organic waste degradation in underground repositories generate significant amounts of gas that should be able to migrate through the multibarrier system to avoid potential pressure buildup, which could be compromising the integrity of the barriers and host rocks. The gas is expected to accumulate in larger pores and eventually form an interconnected network. Under such conditions, the migration of gas molecules takes place both in pore water films and gas-filled macropores. Therefore, mass fluxes depend on the distribution of gas molecules between the water-rich and gas-rich phases and their mobility in both compartments. Classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were employed to investigate the mobilities of He, H2, CO2, Ar, and CH4 in a Na-montmorillonite mesopore as a function of the degree of saturation, as well as evaluate the hydrodynamic behavior of the pore fluid in partially saturated clays. The diffusivity of the gas molecules was determined by observing the asymptotic behavior of the mean square displacement in the gas-rich phase and at the gas-water interface. The partition coefficient and Gibbs free energy were analyzed to investigate the transfer of gas molecules between the gas-rich and water-rich phases by observing the molecular trajectories as they cross the vapor-liquid interface. The results revealed that the diffusion coefficient in the gas phase increased with increasing gas-filled pore width and converged asymptotically toward the diffusion coefficient in the bulk state. It could be shown that the diffusion coefficient of gas molecules dissolved in the water films remained constant as long as the interacting water surface was in the bulk-liquid-like phase. This behavior changes in very thin water films. It was observed that the partitioning coefficient of gas molecules at the solid-liquid interface is nearly the same as that in the bulk-liquid-like phase. Partitioning is observed to be strongly dependent on the temperature and gas molecular weights. In the second part of the study, nonequilibrium molecular dynamics (NEMD) simulations were performed to investigate the mobility of gases in pressure-driven decoupled gas-phase dynamics (DGPD) and coupled gas and water phase dynamics (CGWPD) in a partially saturated Na-montmorillonite slit mesopore. The dynamic viscosity of the gas phase was calculated from NEMD simulations and indicated that the viscosity of the gas phase was almost the same in both methods (DGPD and CGWPD). The average slip length for gas molecules at the gas-water interface was also calculated, revealing that the slip-free boundary condition assumed in continuum models is generally invalid for microfluidics and that a slip boundary condition exists at the microscale for specific surface interactions. Finally, a Bosanquet-type equation was developed to predict the diffusion coefficient and dynamic viscosity of gas as a function of the average pore width, gas mean-free path, geometric factor, and thickness of the adsorbed water film.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Mineralogy
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Owusu, Jerry Peprah, Karalis, Konstantinos


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
500 Science > 540 Chemistry




ACS Publications




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Date Deposited:

03 Aug 2023 10:03

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2023 10:11

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