- Surface complexation of heavy metal cations on clay edges: insights from first principles molecular dynamics simulation of Ni(II)
- Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS)
Aiming at an atomistic mechanism of heavy metal cation complexing on clay surfaces, we carried out systematic first principles molecular dynamics (FPMD) simulations to investigate the structures, free energies and acidity acidity constants of Ni(II) complexes formed on edge surfaces of 2:1 phyllosilicates. Three representative complexes were studied, including monodentate complex on the SiO site, bidentate complex on the Al(OH)2 site, and tetradentate complex on the octahedral vacancy where Ni(II) fits well into the lattice. The complexes structures were characterized in detail. Computed free energy values indicate that the tetradentate complex is significantly more stable than the other two. The calculated acidity constants indicate that the tetradentate complex can get deprotonated (pKa = 8.4) at the ambient conditions whereas the other two hardly deprotonate due to extremely high pKa values. By comparing with the 2 Site Protolysis Non Electrostatic Surface Complexation and Cation Exchange (2SPNE SC/CE) model, the vacant site has been assigned to the strong site and the other two to the weak site, respectively. Thus a link has been built between atomistic simulations and macroscopic experiments and it is deduced that this should also apply to other heavy metal cations based on additional simulations of Co(II) and Cu(II) and previous simulations of Fe(II) and Cd(II)). This study forms a physical basis for understanding the transport and fixation of heavy metal elements in many geologic environments.
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