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Volume 179, 2015
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Nucleation rate analysis of methane hydrate from molecular dynamics simulations

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Abstract

Clathrate hydrates are solid crystalline structures most commonly formed from solutions that have nucleated to form a mixed solid composed of water and gas. Understanding the mechanism of clathrate hydrate nucleation is essential to grasp the fundamental chemistry of these complex structures and their applications. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulation is an ideal method to study nucleation at the molecular level because the size of the critical nucleus and formation rate occur on the nano scale. Various analysis methods for nucleation have been developed through MD to analyze nucleation. In particular, the mean first-passage time (MFPT) and survival probability (SP) methods have proven to be effective in procuring the nucleation rate and critical nucleus size for monatomic systems. This study assesses the MFPT and SP methods, previously used for monatomic systems, when applied to analyzing clathrate hydrate nucleation. Because clathrate hydrate nucleation is relatively difficult to observe in MD simulations (due to its high free energy barrier), these methods have yet to be applied to clathrate hydrate systems. In this study, we have analyzed the nucleation rate and critical nucleus size of methane hydrate using MFPT and SP methods from data generated by MD simulations at 255 K and 50 MPa. MFPT was modified for clathrate hydrate from the original version by adding the maximum likelihood estimate and growth effect term. The nucleation rates calculated by MFPT and SP methods are within 5%, and the critical nucleus size estimated by the MFPT method was 50% higher, than values obtained through other more rigorous but computationally expensive estimates. These methods can also be extended to the analysis of other clathrate hydrates.

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 Nov 2014, accepted on 06 Jan 2015 and first published on 06 Jan 2015


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4FD00219A
Citation: Faraday Discuss., 2015,179, 463-474
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    Nucleation rate analysis of methane hydrate from molecular dynamics simulations

    D. Yuhara, B. C. Barnes, D. Suh, B. C. Knott, G. T. Beckham, K. Yasuoka, D. T. Wu and A. K. Sum, Faraday Discuss., 2015, 179, 463
    DOI: 10.1039/C4FD00219A

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