Stochastic atomistic simulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon growth in combustion†
Nanoparticles formed in gas phase environments, such as combustion, have an important impact on society both as engineering components and hazardous pollutants. A new software package, the Stochastic Nanoparticle Simulator (SNAPS) was developed, applying a stochastic chemical kinetics methodology, to computationally investigate the growth of nanoparticle precursors through trajectories of chemical reactions. SNAPS was applied to characterize the growth of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), important precursors of carbonaceous nanoparticles and soot, in a premixed laminar benzene flame, using a concurrently developed PAH growth chemical reaction mechanism, as well as an existing benzene oxidation mechanism. Simulations of PAH ensembles successfully predicted existing experimentally measured data and provided novel insight into chemical composition and reaction pathways. The most commonly observed PAH isomers in simulations showed the importance of 5-membered rings, which contrasts with traditionally assumed compositions involving primarily pericondensed 6-membered rings. In addition, the chemical growth of PAHs involved complex sequences of highly reversible reactions, rather than relatively direct routes of additions and ring closures. Furthermore, the most common reactions involved 5-membered rings, suggesting their importance to PAH growth. The framework developed in this work will facilitate future investigation of particle inception and soot formation and will benefit engineering of novel combustion technologies to mitigate harmful emissions.