An experimental program was conducted to investigate the water-vapor sorption characteristics of smectite and kaolinite mixtures. End-member smectite and kaolinite were slurry-mixed together at mass-controlled ratios corresponding to 0%, 20%, 50%, 70%, 80%, 90% and 100% smectite. Vapor desorption isotherms for the mixtures were measured at 24° for relative humidity (RH) ranging from ~95% to 0%.
Results show that the amount of water adsorbed by the clay mixtures at a given RH increases systematically with increasing smectite content. Derivative analysis of the sorption isotherms shows evidence of transitions between the two-, one- and zero-layer hydrate-states for the smectite-rich mixtures. The transitions become less apparent as the smectite content decreases. Monolayer coverage, specific surface area, and heat of adsorption were estimated from the isotherms using BET theory. It is shown that monolayer coverage and specific surface for the clay mixtures can be reasonably approximated by weighted averaging of the end-member clay properties. General methodologies are presented for predicting the sorption behavior (i.e. soil-water characteristics) and effective specific surface area from measurements of the end-member sorption isotherms.