Investigation of ethanol oxidation over aluminum nanoparticle using ReaxFF molecular dynamics simulation

Yi Ran Zhang, Adri C.T. van Duin, Kai H. Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Aluminum nanoparticles are an effective and economical additive for producing energetic fuels. In the present study, the state of the art ReaxFF molecular dynamics (MD) simulation has been used to uncover the detailed mechanisms of ethanol oxidation over aluminum nanoparticles with different oxidation states. The MD results reveal the dynamics process of ethanol oxidation reactions at nanoscales. The presence of aluminum nanoparticles is found to reduce the initial temperature of ethanol oxidation to 324 K. It is also found that compared to ethanol, oxygen molecules are more easily adsorbed on aluminum surfaces. Moreover, different oxidation states of aluminum nanoparticles influence the initial ethanol reactions on the nanoparticles’ surfaces. OH-abstraction is more commonly observed on pure aluminum nanoparticles while H-abstraction prevails on aluminum nanoparticles with oxide. The separated H atom from hydroxyl forms bonds with Al and O atom on aluminum nanoparticles surrounded by thin and thick oxide layers, respectively. Adsorptive dissociation of ethanol is hindered by the oxide layer surrounding the aluminum nanoparticle. Gas products like H2O and CO resulting from ethanol oxidation on aluminum nanoparticles with the thick oxide layer are observed while almost all the C, H and O atoms in ethanol diffuse into the nanoparticles without or with the thin oxide layer. For ethanol dissociation, a higher temperature is required than adsorption. In addition, the rate of ethanol dissociation increases with rising reaction temperatures. The activation energy for ethanol adsorptive dissociation is found to be 4.58 kcal/mol on the aluminum nanoparticle with the thin oxide layer, which is consistent with results from much more expensive DFT calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Dec 15 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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