The interaction of two different bulk bentonites (Na- and Ca-types) with three types of simulated cement waters (pH 9.7, 11.3 and 12.0) and one saline groundwater simulate (pH 8.3) as a reference, was studied in batch reactors at 25°C. The solution pH was monitored in order to keep the pH as steady as possible by replacing the leaching solution with fresh one when needed. After 554 days, one set of parallel samples was removed from the experiment in order to investigate the possible changes in the bentonite materials.
The buffering capacity of bentonite was clearly observed, especially at the beginning of the high-pH experiments, as the pH of the leaching solutions decreased quite dramatically due to interaction with bentonite. The solution chemistry results showed a decrease of Ca content in all leachate samples, but especially in pH 12.0 experiments. Small amounts of silica were released throughout the experiment. Both bentonites in pH 12.0 experiments also released detectable amounts of Al, while in the lower pH experiments the levels were below detection limit. These observations were also supported by chemical analyses of the bentonite materials. Only minor changes were detected in the mineralogy, and they were mainly concentrated on experiments at pH 11.3 and pH 12.0. The measured swelling pressure showed an increase in pH 12.0 experiments. The results obtained in this research may facilitate modelling of bentonite interaction with high-pH solutions.