The molecular mechanism of the inhibition effects of PVCaps on the growth of sI hydrate: an unstable adsorption mechanism†
The inhibition properties of kinetic hydrate inhibitor (KHI) molecules on the dynamic growth of a hydrate/water interface are investigated by using molecular dynamics simulations. The shape of the hydrate interface is transformed from laminar to funnel by PVCaps. Results indicate that the inhibition effects not only depend on the adsorption capacity which was believed to determine inhibition, but also on the fact that PVCaps must have some non-binding-hydrate sites that don’t tend to combine with hydrate. By observing the time evolution of the distance between each component of PVCaps and hydrate, the heterocyclic ring of PVCaps mainly contributes to adsorption and can preferentially adjust itself to come into contact with a hydrate semi-large-cage. The distance between the amide of PVCaps and hydrate is about 4 Å and exceeds the range of a general hydrogen bond (3.5 Å), which proves that the non-binding-hydrate sites of PVCaps exist. On the other hand, the amide of PVCaps is at the intersection of the solid–liquid interface but has no adsorption affinity for hydrate, so this adsorption pattern indicates that the PVCaps at the hydrate interface are not stable. Due to this unstable adsorption, a repeated hydrate destruction phenomenon was revealed by the identification algorithm of hydrate and the calculation of the local number density of methane. The statistical evolution of water rings further proved the existence of non-binding-hydrate sites in PVCaps and the inhibition mechanism to destroy the hydrate cages by PVCaps. This unstable adsorption mechanism may shed light on the development of novel efficient KHIs.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2018 PCCP HOT Articles