Gypsum was used as a building material in antiquity and is still widely used as a binder in plaster, drywall, and spackling paste. Known as dihydrate in construction chemistry, gypsum is a water-containing calcium sulfate (CaSO4. 2 H2O).
In various calcination processes, some of the water of crystallization is removed, resulting in calcined gypsum, or hemihydrate (CaSO4. 0.5 H2O). When this material comes into contact with water, it reabsorbs it and sets up. The structure and exact water content of hemihydrate have remained a matter of speculation.
Michael F. Bräu (BASF Construction Chemicals GmbH) and Horst Weiss (BASF SE) have now brought this speculation to an end: by using single-crystal structural analyses they were able to solve the structure, generate a structural model, and support it with computer calculations. As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, hemihydrate does indeed contain exactly one half of a water molecule per structural unit—tightly bound to the calcium sulfate framework.
Hemihydrate is the most heavily produced inorganic compound worldwide, so its structure and water content are of great interest, both economically and scientifically. The first structural model of this compound was proposed in 1933, and it still holds today. Since then, there have been a number of refined models, which do a good job of reproducing the fundamental calcium sulfate scaffold. However, there has always been disagreement about whether the water molecules also adopt a defined arrangement and if so, what it looks like.
Answering such questions requires structural analyses based on X-ray diffraction experiments carried out on single crystals of the right size and quality. The atoms of a crystal deflect incoming X-rays; the resulting characteristic diffraction pattern makes it possible to calculate the positions of the individual atoms in the crystal. However, this has been very difficult to achieve in the case of gypsum crystals. Bräu and Weiss have now been successful. By using various tricks they were able to interpret the diffraction pattern and to use their computer calculations to consolidate the data into a plausible structural model. The alignments of the individual water molecules and their distances from each other prove that there are no interactions between them; they are bound only to the calcium sulfate framework. They are packed in so tightly that no further water molecules can enter into the channels of the basic structure. Variations of the crystal with a proportion of water molecules above 0.5 per formula unit thus seem to be very unlikely.
Author: Michael F. Bräu, BASF Construction Chemicals GmbH, Trostberg (Germany), mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: How Much Water Does Calcined Gypsum Contain?
Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2009, 48, No. 19, 3520–3524, doi: 10.1002/anie.200900726
Michael F. Bräu | Angewandte Chemie
How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH
A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences