Inhibitory Effect of Adsorbed Water on the Transport of Methane in Carbon Nanotubes

L Liu and CX Hu and D Nicholson and SK Bhatia, LANGMUIR, 33, 6280-6291 (2017).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b01070

We investigate the transport diffusion of methane at 300 K and pressures of up to 15 bar in dry and wetted carbon nanotubes (CNTs) having diameters ranging from 0.95 to 2.034 nm using nonequilibrium molecular dynamics (NEMD) simulation. Because of their strong hydrogen bonding, preadsorbed water molecules transport in the form of clusters and block the diffusion of methane, reducing the Onsager coefficient of methane dramatically compared to that in dry CNTs. The reduction in the methane Onsager coefficient is greater in narrower CNTs or at higher water densities. Because the diameter of the water clusters is almost invariant with water density, the Onsager coefficient of water in the (10, 10) CNT increases linearly with water density. It is further found that whereas decreasing the CNT diameter from 2.034 to 0.95 nm enhances the Onsager coefficient of pure methane by about 1 order of magnitude, the Onsager coefficient of water is almost independent of the CNT diameter at a water density of 0.05 g/cm(3). We propose a theoretical model for the strong dependency of methane diffusion in wetted CNTs on the Onsager coefficient of water, the preadsorbed water density, and the CNT diameter. The model predicts the Onsager coefficients of the methane/water mixture from the Onsager coefficients of the pure components. Our study provides a basic understanding of the coupled diffusion of immiscible components in nanochannels and will facilitate progress in gas storage and carbon capture as well as nanofiltration and biomedical and biotechnological applications.

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