The role and implications of bassanite as a stable precursor phase to gypsum precipitation

A.E.S. Van Driessche, L.G. Benning, J.D. Rodriguez-Blanco, M. Ossorio, P. Bots, J.M. García-Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

175 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Calcium sulfate minerals such as gypsum play important roles in natural and industrial processes, but their precipitation mechanisms remain largely unexplored. We used time-resolved sample quenching and high-resolution microscopy to demonstrate that gypsum forms via a three-stage process: (i) homogeneous precipitation of nanocrystalline hemihydrate bassanite below its predicted solubility, (ii) self-assembly of bassanite into elongated aggregates co-oriented along their c axis, and (iii) transformation into dihydrate gypsum. These findings indicate that a stable nanocrystalline precursor phase can form below its bulk solubility and that in the CaSO4 system, the self-assembly of nanoparticles plays a crucial role. Understanding why bassanite forms prior to gypsum can lead to more efficient anti-scaling strategies for water desalination and may help to explain the persistence of CaSO4 phases in regions of low water activity on Mars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-72
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume335
Issue number6077
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2012

Keywords

  • calcium sulfate minerals
  • gypsum
  • precipitation

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