Assistant Professor of Chemistry Geoffrey Bowers is the lead author on an article published this week in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C. St. Mary’s College alumnus Randy Larsen ’19 is co-authored on the paper “Influence of Smectite Structure and Hydration on Supercritical Methane Binding and Dynamics in Smectite Pores.”
The paper is a continuation of Bower’s and Larsen’s long-standing work to try and understand the fundamentals of how fluid particles interact with surfaces and the details of how they stick and move on a molecular-scale. Through specialized experiments at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the two learned several important things about how methane interacts with pores. One finding was that methane can be trapped in several different types of pores in packed clay, a common component of shales. They also provided the first clear evidence that the methane in these different types of pores can hop, or exchange, between the pores, as well as provided an idea of the rates that such exchange occurs - a critical component of understanding gas transport underground. They also learned that the chemical shift of the carbon in methane is sensitive to the size of the pore that methane dynamically explores, meaning methane can be used to measure pore sizes in porous materials.
The article can be found at https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpcc.9b08875.
This is the seventh paper Bowers has authored or co-authored in calendar year 2019. He recently received the Norton T. Dodge Award for Scholarly and Creative Achievement by a Junior Faculty Member in 2019.