Atomistic investigation on the detachment of oil molecules from defective alumina surface

WK Xie and YZ Sun and HT Liu, APPLIED SURFACE SCIENCE, 426, 504-513 (2017).

DOI: 10.1016/j.apsusc.2017.07.163

The mechanism of oil detachment from defective alumina surface in aqueous solution was investigated via atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Special attention was focused on the effect of surface defect on the oil detachment. Our simulation results suggest that compared with perfect AI 2 O 3 surface, defective substrate surface provides much more sites for the adsorption of oil molecules, thus it has higher oil adsorption energy. However, higher oil-solid adsorption energy does not mean that oil contaminants are much more difficult to be detached. It is found that surface defect could induce the spontaneous imbibition of water molecules, effectively promoting the detachment of oil molecules. Thus, compared with perfect alumina surface, the detachment of oil molecules from defective alumina surface tends to be much easier. Moreover, surface defect could lead to the oil residues inside surface defect. In water solution, the entire detachment process of oil molecules on defective surface consists of following stages, including the early detachment of oil molecules inside surface defect induced by capillary-driven spontaneous imbibition of water molecules, the following conformational change of oil molecules on topmost surface and the final migration of detached oil molecules from solid surface. These findings may help to sufficiently enrich the removal mechanism of oil molecules adhered onto defective solid surface. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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