Assessments of bentonite barrier performance in waste management scenarios require an accurate description of the diffusion of water and solutes through the barrier. A two-compartment macropore/nanopore model (on which smectite interlayer nanopores are treated as a distinct compartment of the overall pore space) was applied to describe the diffusion of 22Na+ in compacted, water-saturated Na-bentonites and then compared with the well-known surface diffusion model. The two-compartment model successfully predicted the observed weak ionic strength dependence of the apparent diffusion coefficient (Da) of Na+, whereas the surface diffusion model did not, thus confirming previous research indicating the strong influence of interlayer nanopores on the properties of smectite clay barriers. Since bentonite mechanical properties and pore water chemistry have been described successfully with two-compartment models, the results in the present study represent an important contribution toward the construction of a comprehensive two-compartment model of compacted bentonite barriers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Geochemistry and Petrology