Reactive force field development for magnesium chloride hydrates and its application for seasonal heat storage

Amar Deep Pathak, Silvia Nedea, Adri C.T. Van Duin, Herbert Zondag, Camilo Rindt, David Smeulders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


MgCl2 hydrates are considered as high-potential candidates for seasonal heat storage materials. These materials have high storage capacity and fast dehydration kinetics. However, as a side reaction to dehydration, hydrolysis may occur. Hydrolysis is an irreversible reaction, which produces HCl gas thus affecting the durability of heat storage systems. In this study, we present the parameterization of a reactive force field (ReaxFF) for MgCl2 hydrates to study the dehydration and hydrolysis kinetics of MgCl2·H2O and MgCl2·2H2O. The ReaxFF parameters have been derived by training against quantum mechanics data obtained from Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations consisting of bond dissociation curves, angle bending curves, reaction enthalpies, and equation of state. A single-parameter search algorithm in combination with a Metropolis Monte Carlo algorithm is successfully used for this ReaxFF parameterization. The newly developed force field is validated by examining the elastic properties of MgCl2 hydrates and the proton transfer reaction barrier, which is important for the hydrolysis reaction. The bulk moduli of MgCl2·H2O and MgCl2·2H2O obtained from ReaxFF are in close agreement with the bulk moduli obtained from DFT. A barrier of 20.24 kcal mol-1 for the proton transfer in MgCl2·2H2O is obtained, which is in good agreement with the barrier (19.55 kcal mol-1) obtained from DFT. Molecular dynamics simulations using the newly developed ReaxFF on 2D-periodic slabs of MgCl2·H2O and MgCl2·2H2O show that the dehydration rate increases more rapidly with temperature in MgCl2·H2O than in MgCl2·2H2O, in the temperature range 300-500 K. The onset temperature of HCl formation, a crucial design parameter in seasonal heat storage systems, is observed at 340 K for MgCl2·H2O, which is in agreement with experiments. The HCl formation is not observed for MgCl2·2H2O. The diffusion coefficient of H2O through MgCl2·H2O is lower than through MgCl2·2H2O, and can become a rate-limiting step. The diffusion coefficient increases with temperature and follows the Arrhenius law both for MgCl2·H2O and MgCl2·2H2O. These results indicate the validity of the ReaxFF approach for studying MgCl2 hydrates and provide important atomistic-scale insight of reaction kinetics and H2O transport in these materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15838-15847
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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