Metal sequestration through coupled dissolution– precipitation at the Brucite–Water interface
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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. The increasing release of potentially toxic metals from industrial processes can lead to highly elevated concentrations of these metals in soil, and ground-and surface-waters. Today, metal pollution is one of the most serious environmental problems and thus, the development of effective remediation strategies is of paramount importance. In this context, it is critical to understand how dissolved metals interact with mineral surfaces in soil–water environments. Here, we assessed the processes that govern the interactions between six common metals (Zn, Cd, Co, Ni, Cu, and Pb) with natural brucite (Mg(OH)2) surfaces. Using atomic force microscopy and a flow-through cell, we followed the coupled process of brucite dissolution and subsequent nucleation and growth of various metal bearing precipitates at a nanometer scale. Scanning electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy allowed for the identification of the precipitates as metal hydroxide phases. Our observations and thermodynamic calculations indicate that this coupled dissolution–precipitation process is governed by a fluid boundary layer at the brucite–water interface. Importantly, this layer differs in composition and pH from the bulk solution. These results contribute to an improved mechanistic understanding of sorption reactions at mineral surfaces that control the mobility and fate of toxic metals in the environment.
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