Clays and Clay Minerals

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 170–182 | Cite as

Viscosity of Water in Clay Systems

  • Philip F. Low


A method was devised for obtaining the activation energy for the viscous flow of a fluid through a porous medium and the method was applied to the flow of water through samples of Na-bentonite. The resulting activation energies were generally higher than the activation energy for the flow of pure water. The activation energy depended on the length of time the water was in contact with the clay and also on the particular sample. For any given sample, the water flow rate was negatively correlated with the activation energy, in accordance with theory.

To help interpret these results, data are presented on the tension of water in Na-bentonite suspensions at different intervals of time after stirring. The water tension was near zero immediately after stirring but increased gradually with time. Simultaneously the suspension gelled. Data also are presented on the specific volumes of water, the activation energies for ion movement, the diffusion coefficients of chloride salts and the unfrozen water at–5°C in Li-, Na- and K-bentonite. The activation energies for ion movement and the amounts of unfrozen water were positively correlated with the specific volumes of the water, whereas the diffusion coefficients of the chloride salts were negatively correlated with the specific volumes of the water. In each clay the specific volume of the water and the activation energy for ion movement were higher than those in normal water.

It is concluded that a water structure, which varies in extent with particle arrangement and the adsorbed cationic species, exists at the surface of clay particles. This structure bestows a high viscosity to the adsorbed water.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, D. M. and Low, P. F. (1958) The density of water adsorbed by lithium-, sodium-, and potassium-bentonite: Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Proc., v. 22, pp. 99–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrade, E. N. Da C. (1934) A theory of the viscosity of liquids II: Phil. Mag., v. 17, pp. 698–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carman, P. C. (1939) Permeability of saturated sands, soils and clays: J. Agric. Sci., v. 29, pp. 262–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Day, P. R. (1956) Effect of shear on water tension in satnratsd clay. II: Ann. Rep. Calqornia Agric. Exp. Sta., Project 1586.Google Scholar
  5. Dutt, G. R. (1959) The diffusion of the alkali chlorides in Wyoming bentonite: M.S. thesis, Purdue University.Google Scholar
  6. Elton, G. A. H. and Hirschler, F. G. (1949) Electroviscosity IV. Some extensions of the theory of flow of liquids in narrow channels: Proc. Roy. SOL, v. 198A, pp. 581–589.Google Scholar
  7. Glasstone, S., Laidler, K. J. and Eyring, H. (1941) The Theory of Rate Processes: McGraw-Hill Roolc Co., New York, 611 pp.Google Scholar
  8. Hemwall, J. B. and Low, P. P. (1956) The hydrostatic repulsive force in clay swelling: Soil Sci., v. 82, pp. 135–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Henniker, J. C. (1952) Retardation of flow in narrow capillaries: J. Colloid Sci., v. 7, pp. 443–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hodgman, C. D. and Holmes, H. N. (Editors) (1942) Handbook of Chemistry and Physics: Chemical Rubber Publishing Co., Cleveland, Ohio.Google Scholar
  11. Low, P. F. (1958) The apparent mobilities of exchangeable alkali metal cations in bentonite-water systems: Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Proc., v. 22, pp. 395–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Low, P. F. and Anderson, D. M. (1958) The partial specific volume of water in bentonite suspensions: Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Proc., v. 22, pp. 22–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Low, P. F. and Anderson, D. M. (1958a) Osmotic pressure equations for determining thermodynamic properties of soil water: Soil Sci., v. 86, pp. 251–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Low, P. F. and Lovell, C. W. (1959) The factor of moisture in frost action: in Highway Research Board Bulletin 225, Natl. Acad. Sci.-Natl. Res. Council Pub., in press.Google Scholar
  15. Macey, H. H. (1942) Clay-water relationships and the internal mechanism of drying: Trans. Ceram. Soc., v. 41, pp. 73–121.Google Scholar
  16. Marshall, C. E. (1949) The Colloid Chemistry of the Silicate Minerals: Academic Press Inc., New York, 195 pp.Google Scholar
  17. Michaels, A. S. and Lin, C. S. (1955) Effects of counterelectro-osmosis and sodium ion exchange on permeability of kaolinite: Industr. Engng. Chem., v. 47, pp. 1249–1253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rosenqvist, I. Th. (1955) Investigations in the clay-electrolyte-water system: Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Pub. 9.Google Scholar
  19. Rosenqvist, I. Th. (1959) Physico-chemical properties of soils: soil water systems: J. Soil Mechanics and Foundations Division, Amer. Soc. Civil Eng., v. 85, no. SM2, pp. 31–53.Google Scholar
  20. van Olphen, H. (1956) Forces between suspended bentonite particles: in Clays and Clay Minerals, Natl. Acad. Sci.-Natl. Res. Council pub. 456, pp. 204–224.Google Scholar
  21. Von Engelhardt, W. and Tunn, W. L. M. (Translated by Witherspoon, P. A.) (1955) The flow of fluids through sandstones: Illinois State Geol. Survey, Circular 194, pp. 1–16.Google Scholar
  22. Weiss, Armin, Fahn, R. and Hofmann, U. (1952) Nachweis der Geriiststruktur in thixotropen Gelen: Naturwiss., v. 39, pp. 351–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Clay Minerals Society 1959

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip F. Low
    • 1
  1. 1.Agronomy DepartmentPurdue UniversityLafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations