Self-diffusion coefficients of H2O molecules in water-rich gels of Na-rich expandable mica synthesized using natural talc were measured by pulsed-gradient spin-echo 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and the dependence on mica fraction (0.00–43.8 wt.%) and temperature (30.0–60.9°C) was examined. On the basis of the NMR results, the self-diffusion coefficient of H2O, Dwater, in the gel can be expressed by ln(Dwater/D0water) = 1.64[exp(−0.0588w) −1], where D0water is the self-diffusivity of bulk water at temperature and w is the weight fraction of the mica (wt.%). The activation energy of H2O diffusivity in mica gel is nearly equal to that in bulk water. These findings indicate that the normalized diffusivity, Dwater/D0water, is independent of temperature. The diffusivity of I, Diodine, in the gels was examined by X-ray computed tomography (CT) at 22°C, and the influence of the mica fraction (0.00–24.8 wt.%) was studied to determine the contribution of bound H2O. The X-ray CT results show that the normalized I diffusivity, Diodine/D0iodine , obeys the above-mentioned phenomenological curve where D0iodine is the I diffusivity in bulk water. I is non-sorbing, and thus its diffusion is restricted only by the geometrical complexity of the pore structure of gels. Therefore, the effect of bound H2O molecules on average H2O diffusivity is negligible for w <24.8 wt.%. Diffusivity is governed by free or unbound H2O molecules diffusing in the geometrically complex and tortuous pore structure of mica-mineral grains. This is a result of the large population of unbound H2O far from the grain surface compared to the small population of bound H2O near the grain surface. The diffusion of I ions in montmorillonite gels was examined by X-ray CT for w <16.7 wt.% montmorillonite. The normalized iodine diffusivity, (Diodine/D0iodine ) obtained is in reasonably close agreement with the literature data for the normalized diffusivity of H2O and is similar to the master curve of expandable mica. Therefore, bound H2O molecules near negatively charged clay surfaces do not play a major role in the H2O diffusivity for water-rich montmorillonite gels.

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