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Enhanced Sorption of Supercritical CO2 and CH4 in the Hydrated Interlayer Pores of Smectite

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journal contribution
posted on 18.03.2021, 16:38 by Junyoung Hwang, Ronny Pini
Understanding the long-term confinement of supercritical fluids in the clay pores of subsurface rocks is important for many geo-energy technologies, including geological CO2 storage. However, the adsorption properties of hydrated clay minerals remain largely uncertain because competitive adsorption experiments of supercritical fluids in the presence of water are difficult. Here, we report on the sorption properties of four source clay mineralsCa-rich montmorillonite (STx-1b), Na-rich montmorillonite (SWy-2), illite–smectite mixed layer (ISCz-1), and illite (IMt-2)for water at 20 °C up to relative humidity of 0.9. The measurements unveil the unsuitability of physisorption analysis by N2 (at 77 K) and Ar (at 87 K) gases to quantify the textural properties of clays because of their inability to probe the interlayers. We further measure the sorption of CO2 and CH4 on swelling STx-1b and nonswelling IMt-2, both in the absence (dehydrated at 200 °C) and the presence of sub-1W preadsorbed water (following dehydration) up to 170 bar at 50 °C. We observe enhanced sorption of CO2 and CH4 in STx-1b (50 and 65% increase at 30 bar relative to dry STx-1b, respectively), while their adsorption on IMt-2 remains unchanged, indicating the absence of competition with water. By describing the supercritical adsorption isotherms on hydrated STx-1b with the lattice density functional theory model, we estimate that the pore volume has expanded by approximately 6% through the formation of sub-nanometer pore space. By presenting a systematic approach of quantifying the smectite clay mineral’s hydrated state, this study provides an explanation for the conflicting literature observations of gas uptake capacities in the presence of water.