Mechanisms of surface charge modification of carbonates in aqueous electrolyte solutions

Maryam H. Derkani, Ashleigh J. Fletcher, Maxim Fedorov, Wael Abdallah, Bastian Sauerer, James Anderson, Zhenyu J. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of different types of salts (NaCl, CaCl2, MgCl2, NaHCO3, and Na2 SO4) on the surface characteristics of unconditioned calcite and dolomite particles, and conditioned with stearic acid, was investigated. This study used zeta potential measurements to gain fundamental understanding of physico-chemical mechanisms involved in surface charge modification of carbonate minerals in the presence of diluted salt solutions. By increasing the salt concentration of divalent cationic salt solution (CaCl2 and MgCl2), the zeta potential of calcite particles was altered, resulting in charge reversal from negative to positive, while dolomite particles maintained positive zeta potential. This is due to the adsorption of potential-determining cations (Ca2+ and Mg2+), and consequent changes in the structure of the diffuse layer, predominantly driven by coulombic interactions. On the other hand, chemical adsorption of potential-determining anions (HCO3 and SO2− 4) maintained the negative zeta potential of carbonate surfaces and increased its magnitude up to 10 mM, before decreasing at higher salt concentrations. Physisorption of stearic acid molecules on the calcite and dolomite surfaces changed the zeta potential to more negative values in all solutions. It is argued that divalent cations (Ca2+ and Mg2+) would result in positive and neutral complexes with stearic acid molecules, which may result in strongly bound stearic acid films, whereas ions resulting in negative mineral surface charges (SO2− 4 and HCO3) will cause stearic acid films to be loosely bound to the carbonate mineral surfaces. The suggested mechanism for surface charge modification of carbonates, in the presence of different ions, is changes in both distribution of ions in the diffuse layer and its structure as a result of ion adsorption to the crystal lattice by having a positive contribution to the disjoining pressures when changing electrolyte concentration. This work extends the current knowledge base for dynamic water injection design by determining the effect of salt concentration on surface electrostatics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number62
JournalColloids and Interfaces
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcite
  • Disjoining pressure
  • Dolomite
  • Electric double layer
  • Low salinity waterflooding
  • Stearic acid
  • Wettability mechanism
  • Zeta potential


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanisms of surface charge modification of carbonates in aqueous electrolyte solutions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this