Ultra-Fast Supercritical Hydrothermal Synthesis of Tobermorite under Thermodynamically Metastable Conditions
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Tobermorite is a fibrillar mineral of the family of calcium silicates. In spite of not being abundant in nature, its structure and properties are reasonably well known because of its interest in the construction industry. Currently, tobermorite is synthesized by hydrothermal methods at mild temperatures. The problem is that such processes are very slow (>5 h) and temperature cannot be increased to speed them up because tobermorite is metastable over 130 °C. Furthermore the product obtained is generally foil-like and not very crystalline. Herein we propose an alternative synthesis method based on the use of a continuous flow reactor and supercritical water. In spite of the high temperature, the transformation of tobermorite to more stable phases can be prevented by accurately controlling the reaction time. As a result, highly crystalline fibrillar tobermorite can be obtained in just a few seconds under thermodynamically metastable conditions.