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Title: Dynamics of Magnesite Formation at Low-Temperature and High pCO2 in Aqueous Solution

Like many metal carbonate minerals, despite conditions of supersaturation, precipitation of magnesite from aqueous solution is kinetically hindered at low temperatures, for reasons that remain poorly understood. The present study examines precipitation products from reaction of Mg(OH)2 in aqueous solutions saturated with supercritical CO2 at high pressures (90 atm and 110 atm) and low temperatures (35 °C and 50 °C). Traditional bulk characterization (X-ray diffraction) of the initial solid formed indicated the presence of hydrated magnesium carbonates (hydromagnesite and nesquehonite), thermodynamically metastable phases that were found to slowly react during ageing to the more stable anhydrous form, magnesite, at temperatures as low as 35 °C (135-140 days) and at a faster rate at 50 °C (56 days). Undetected by bulk measurements, detailed examination of the precipitates by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed that magnesite is present as a minor component at relatively early reaction times (7 days) at 50 °C. In addition to magnesite dominating the solid phases over time, we find that mangesite nucleation and growth occurs more quickly with increasing partial pressure of CO2, and in electrolyte solutions with high bicarbonate content. Furthermore, formation of magnesite was found to be enhanced in sulfate-rich solutions, compared to chloride-rich solutions.more » We speculate that much of this behavior is possibly due to sulfate serving as sink of protons generated during carbonation reactions. These results support the importance of integrating magnesite as an equilibrium phase in reactive transport calculations of the effects of carbon dioxide sequestration on subsurface formations at long time scales.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Environmental Science & Technology, 49(17):10736-10744
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States