Modeling Sorption and Diffusion of Organic Sorbate in Hexadecyltrimethylammonium-Modified Clay Nanopores - A Molecular Dynamics Simulation Study

Q Zhao and SE Burns, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 47, 2769-2776 (2013).

DOI: 10.1021/es3045482

Organoclays are highly sorptive engineered materials that can be used as amendments in barrier systems or geosynthetic liners. The performance of confining and isolating the nonpolar organic contaminants by those barrier/lining systems is essentially controlled by the process of organic contaminant mass transport in nanopores of organoclays. In this article, we use molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to study the sorption and diffusion of organic sorbates in interlayers of sodium montmorillonite and hexadecyltrimethylammonium (HDTMA(+))-modified montmorillonite clays. Simulated system consisted of the clay framework, interlayer organic cation, water, and organic sorbate. Their interactions were addressed by the combined force field of ClayFF, constant-valence force field, and SPC water model. Simulation results indicated that in HDTMA coated clay nanopores, diffusion of nonpolar species benzene was slowed because they were subjected to influence of both the pore wall and the HDTMA surfactant. This suggested the nonpolar organic compound diffusion in organophilic clays can be affected by molecular size of diffusive species, clay pore size, and organic surfactant loading. Additionally, a model that connected the diffusion rate of organic compounds in the bulk organoclay matrix with macropores and nanopores was established. The impact of intercalated organic cations on the diffusion dominated mass transport of organic compounds yielded insight into the prediction of the apparent diffusion behavior of organic compounds in organic-modified clays.

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