September 28, 2022
Journal Article

Molecular-Scale Mechanisms of CO2 Mineralization in Nanoscale Interfacial Water Films


The calamitous impacts of untethered carbon emission from fossil-fuel-burning energy infrastructure calls for accelerated development of large-scale CO2 capture, utilization, and storage technologies that are underpinned by fundamental understanding of molecular-level chemical processes. In the subsurface, rocks rich in divalent metals can react with CO2, permanently sequestering it in the form of stable metal carbonate minerals, with the CO2-H2O composition of the post-injection pore fluid acting as a primary control variable. Herein, we compare mechanistic reaction pathways for aqueous-mediated carbonation with carbon mineralization occurring in nanoscale adsorbed water films. In the extreme of pores filled with a CO2-dominant fluid, carbonation reactions are confined to nanometer-thick water films coating mineral surfaces, which enable metal cation release, transport, nucleation, and crystallization of metal carbonate minerals. Though seemingly counterintuitive, laboratory studies have demonstrated facile carbonation rates in these low water environments, which in recent years has begun to be better understood in mechanistic detail. The overarching objective of this review is to delineate the unique underlying molecular-scale reaction mechanisms that govern CO2 mineralization in these reactive and dynamic quasi-2D interfaces. We highlight the importance of understanding unique properties in thin water films, such as how water dielectric properties, and consequently ion solvation/hydration behavior, can change under nanoconfinement. We conclude by identifying important frontiers for future work and opportunities to exploit these fundamental chemical insights for decarbonization technologies in the 21st century.

Published: September 28, 2022


Qomi M., Q. Miller, S. Zare, H.T. Schaef, J. Kaszuba, and K.M. Rosso. 2022. Molecular-Scale Mechanisms of CO2 Mineralization in Nanoscale Interfacial Water Films. Nature Reviews Chemistry 6, no. 9:598-613. PNNL-SA-169144. doi:10.1038/s41570-022-00418-1

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