Experimental Studies: Clay Swelling

  • Vyacheslav Romanov
  • Evgeniy M. Myshakin
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


The best-known characteristic of clay is a dramatic change in its morphological and geomechanical properties: from hard, dense, and brittle upon drying or firing to soft, pliable, and swelling upon exposure to water. Chemical properties of the 1:1 and 2:1 clay minerals are significantly different, which is mainly related to the bonds between individual layers. The interlayer environment is determined by the chemical nature of clay layers, the layer charge, interlayer cations, and water molecules forming hydration shells around the cations and H-bonding with clay surfaces. Mechanisms of water sorption and cluster organization are electrochemical in nature and fundamental to the swelling process. Some researchers also observed irreversible CO2-induced swelling with smectite in 1–2 W hydration state, but the others reported only shrinking attributed to drying effects of high-pressure CO2, for the cation-exchanged smectite with partly filled second hydration layer. The current interpretation of swelling phenomena evolves rapidly, following advances in experimental techniques and Monte Carlo and MD simulations of the structured fluid behavior. MD simulations show that the interlayer molecules do not organize themselves in a strictly tilted or strictly parallel to the surface configuration, which may result in fairly steep but gradual rather than stepwise increase in the basal spacing as the interlayer is filled with the solvent molecules. The magnitude of swelling hysteresis varies with the hydration energy of the interlayer cations and is generally more pronounced for vermiculite than montmorillonite.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Department of EnergyNational Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)PittsburghUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Department of EnergyNETL–AECOMPittsburghUSA

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