Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

Pressure solution The importance of the electrochemical surface potentials

Younjin Min, The University of Akron


“Pressure solution”, frequently found in clay-rich sandstone, is characterized by enhanced quartz dissolution at inter-grain contacts. The origin of pressure solution and many other related dissolution processes remains elusive. Using an Electrochemical Surface Forces Apparatus we visualized and measured the dissolution of silica glass surfaces close to an electrode surface. The dissolution rates correlate quantitatively with the electrode potential via the Butler–Volmer equation for corrosion. Our experimental results demonstrate that at low temperature, apparent pressure solution and many other mineral dissolution phenomena can be driven by electrochemical processes rather than a pressure-driven process. This finding highlights the role of electrochemical surface potentials in dissolution phenomena at dissimilar material interfaces, and provides new perspectives on pressure solution in particular and a new theoretical basis for predictive control of dissolution phenomena in general.