Simulating the nucleation and growth of magnesite from multicomponent aqueous solutions

Theme: Environmental Pollution

Main Supervisor:

Devis Di Tommaso

Biological & Chemical Sciences, QMUL

Second Supervisor:

Mariette Wolthers

Chemistry, UCL

Project Description:

The formation of magnesite (MgCO3) has aroused much interest due to its potential as a possible safe long-term CO2 storage host: the reaction of CO2 with Mg-silicates olivine and serpentine in an aqueous environment to form stable magnsium carbonate could represent a thermodynamically favourable, safe, and readably auditable route to the carbon capture & storage(CCS) of carbon dioxide.

However, despite being the stable carbonate form, the formation of magnesite at ambient temperature is virtually impossible. Because the precipitation magnesite appears to be limited by the nucleation, the aim of this research project is to develop and apply state-of-the-art computer modelling approaches to simulate the microscopic events that surround this process (separation of solute and solvent molecules, formation of cluster and nanophases, interactions at the solid-solution interface), in order to obtain a molecular-level picture of the complete pathway associated with the formation of magnesite.

Policy Impact of Research:

Determining the microscopic processes controlling magnesite precipitation will illuminate the reasons why magnesite fails to precipitate from ambient conditions.

This will have important implication for the feasibility of carbonate mineralization for CCS.

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