Large-scale atomistic model construction of subbituminous and bituminous coals for solvent extraction simulations with reactive molecular dynamics

Pilsun Yoo, Gang Seob Jung, Matthew R. Ryder, Frederic Vautard, Ercan Cakmak, Sungsool Wi, Matthew C. Weisenberger, Edgar Lara-Curzio, Jonathan P. Mathews, Stephan Irle

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Large-scale atomistic models for complex polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon systems help understand the chemical properties and behaviors of complex feedstocks such as coal or petroleum. However, the development and utilization of large-scale models remain limited due to the difficulty in achieving the varied structural characteristics necessary to capture stochastic nature of these feedstocks. We demonstrate a systematic workflow to construct stochastic molecular systems from a broad analytical suite: high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (13C NMR), laser desorption ionization mass spectroscopy (LDI-MS), and elemental analysis. We present a model construction and analysis utility of a new Python-based module. We selected one subbituminous and three high-volatile bituminous coals to construct large-scale models (∼40,000 atoms). The constructed models were utilized to examine the affinity for solvent extraction (naphthalene or tetralin) and the effect of structural properties (e.g., aromatic cluster size, functional groups, and cross-linking) in reactive molecular dynamics simulations. Complex chemical reactions were monitored with bond order transitions, intermediates formation, and mass distributions. Reactive molecular dynamics simulations suggest a plausible chemical extraction process and products for the complex fossil feedstocks. The results indicated that radical formations with bond breaking of bridging oxygens and carbons were required at high temperatures to facilitate hydrogeneration and extraction of gas molecules from radical-free molecules. We observed that aliphatic chains of tetralin were easily decomposed and combined with radicals to form small size of molecules with aryl bonding, mainly increasing molecules in the 500–1000 Da, while naphthalene had little impact on chemical extraction process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118939
StatePublished - Mar 25 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science

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