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A mechanism of basal spacing reduction in sodium smectitic clay materials in contact with DNAPL wastes

Ayral-Cinar, Derya, Otero-Diaz, Margarita, Demond, Avery H.
Chemosphere 2016 v.159 pp. 577-583
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, anionic surfactants, bentonite, clay, cracking, dense nonaqueous phase liquids, landfills, nonionic surfactants, screening, slurries, sodium, solvents, sorption, tetrachloroethylene, wastes
There has been concern regarding the possible attack of clays in aquitards, slurry walls and landfill liners by dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) wastes, resulting in cracking. Despite the fact that a reduction in basal spacing in sodium smectitic clay materials has been linked to cracking, no plausible mechanism by which this reduction occurs in contact with waste DNAPLs has been formulated. To elucidate a mechanism, screening studies were conducted that showed that the combination of an anionic surfactant (AOT), a nonionic surfactant (TritonX-100) and a chlorinated solvent, tetrachloroethylene (PCE), could replicate the basal spacing reduction and cracking behavior of water-saturated bentonite caused by two waste DNAPLs obtained from the field. FTIR measurements of this system showed a displacement of the HOH bending band of water symptomatic of desiccation. Sorption measurements showed that the uptake of AOT by bentonite increased eight fold in the presence of TritonX-100 and PCE. The evidence presented here supports a mechanism of syneresis, involving the extraction of water from the interlayer space of the clay through the synergistic sorption of a nonionic and anionic surfactant mixture. It is speculated that the solvation of water in reverse micellar aggregates is the process driving the syneresis.