Effects of Relative Humidity on the Basal Expansion of Mg-Smectite Equilibrated with Ethylene Glycol at Low Vapor Pressure

Y. P. Hsieh
Wetland Ecology Program, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida 32307

Abstract: The effects of relative humidity (RH) on the expansion of Mg-smectite, equilibrated with low vapor pressure of ethylene glycol (EG), was studied. Four smectite samples were equilibrated with EG vapor from: (1) saturated vapor of pure EG, (2) an EG-CaCl2 solvate, and (3) 0.05 relative EG vapor pressure at 65°C. X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) analyses of the clays under different RH conditions indicated that without EG, the basal spacing of Mg-smectite samples could only be expanded to 16 Å, even at 0.97 RH. The basal spacing of Mg-smectite samples equilibrated with saturated EG vapor was expanded to 17.1 Å and was not significantly affected by RH in the range 0.1–0.9. The basal spacing of the Mg-smectite samples equilibrated with vapor from the EG-CaCl2 solvate and 0.05 relative EG pressure at 65°C was expanded by an amount that depended on the RH during the XRD analysis. The basal spacing increased from 14.2 to 17.1 Å as the RH increased from 0.6 to 0.75, except for sample API 23, which expanded to 17.1 Å at RH > 0.9. This sample did not expand beyond 16 Å when it was equilibrated with 0.05 EG relative vapor pressure. Sorption of moisture from air caused the one-layer EG-Mg-smectite complex (basal spacing = 14.1 Å) to rearrange itself to a double-layer EG-Mg-smectite complex (basal spacing = 17.1 Å). A small amount of the adsorbed EG in Mg-smectite, much less than was needed to cover a one-layer of the interlayer surfaces, caused an expansion of the basal spacing to 17.1 Å at high RH during the XRD analysis. The minimum amount of adsorbed EG which caused the one-/two-layer EG complex conversion was about 20–30 mg EG/g. The conversion was fast (<5 min) and was relatively reversible.

Key Words: Basal expansion • Ethylene glycol • Relative humidity • Smectite • X-ray powder expansion

Clays and Clay Minerals; October 1989 v. 37; no. 5; p. 459-463; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1989.0370510
© 1989, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)