Wolf-Achim Kahl, Christian Hansen, Wolfgang Bach
Solid Earth (2016) 7, 651-658
A new flow-through reaction cell consisting of an X-ray-transparent semicrystalline thermoplastic has been developed for percolation experiments. Core holder, tubing and all confining parts are constructed using PEEK (polyetheretherketone) to allow concomitant surveillance of the reaction progress by X-ray microtomography (μ-CT). With this cell setup, corrosive or oversaturated fluids can be forced through rock cores (up to ∅ 19 mm) or powders at pressures up to 100 bar and temperatures up to 200 °C. The reaction progress of the experiment can be monitored without dismantling the sample from the core holder.
The combination of this flow-through reaction cell setup with a laboratory X-ray μ-CT system facilitates on-demand monitoring of the reaction progress of (long-term) hydrothermal experiments in the own laboratory, keeping interruption times as short as possible. To demonstrate both the suitability of the cell construction material for X-ray imaging purposes and the experimental performance of the flow-through system, we report the virtually non-existent bias of the PEEK cell setup with distinctive X-ray observations (e.g., differing states of pore fillings: air vs. fluid; detection of delicate fabric elements: filigree zeolite crystals overgrowing weathered muscovite), and the monitoring of the gypsum/anhydrite transition as a case study of a 4-D fabric evolution.