The boundary layer at solid-liquid interfaces is a unique reaction environment that poses significant scientific challenges to characterize and understand by experimentation alone. Using ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) methods, we report on the structure and dynamics of boundary layer formation, cation mobilization and carbonation under geologic carbon sequestration scenarios (T = 323 K and P = 90 bar) on a prototypical anorthite (001) surface. At low coverage, water film formation is enthalpically favored, but entropically hindered. Simulated adsorption isotherms show that a water monolayer will form even at the low water concentrations of water-saturated scCO2. Carbonation reactions readily occur at electron-rich terminal Oxygen sites adjacent to cation vacancies that readily form in the presence of a water monolayer. These results point to a carbonation mechanism that does not require prior carbonic acid formation in the bulk liquid. This work also highlights the modern capabilities of theoretical methods to address structure and reactivity at interfaces of high chemical complexity.
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