Surface-charge-governed electrolyte transport in carbon nanotubes

JM Xue and P Guo and Q Sheng, CHINESE PHYSICS B, 24, 086601 (2015).

DOI: 10.1088/1674-1056/24/8/086601

The transport behavior of pressure-driven aqueous electrolyte solution through charged carbon nanotubes (CNTs) is studied by using molecular dynamics simulations. The results reveal that the presence of charges around the nanotube can remarkably reduce the flow velocity as well as the slip length of the aqueous solution, and the decreasing of magnitude depends on the number of surface charges and distribution. With 1-M KCl solution inside the carbon nanotube, the slip length decreases from 110 nm to only 14 nm when the number of surface charges increases from 0 to 12 e. This phenomenon is attributed to the increase of the solid-liquid friction force due to the electrostatic interaction between the charges and the electrolyte particles, which can impede the transports of water molecules and electrolyte ions. With the simulation results, we estimate the energy conversion efficiency of nanofluidic battery based on CNTs, and find that the highest efficiency is only around 30% but not 60% as expected in previous work.

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