We performed synchrotron X-ray scattering studies of the dynamics of the water intercalation front in a Na-Fluorohectorite clay. Like other smectite clays, fluorohectorite particles can swell due to intercalation of successive water layers. Monitoring the intensities of Bragg peaks of the known 1- and 2-water-layer hydration states at different positions in the sample enabled spatial and temporal measurement of the proportions of the different hydration states. From experiments with controlled temperature and an imposed humidity gradient on a quasi one-dimensional powder sample, we were able to localize the intercalation front and demonstrate that the width of this front was smaller than 2 mm after penetrating 9 mm into the sample. The speed at which the intercalation front advanced through the sample during the diffusion process was shown to decrease with time. The diffraction signature of random water intercalation in the vicinity of the intercalation front also provided information on the changes in the water content of the mesopores around clay particles.
- Nano-layered materials
- Water intercalation