ReaxFF-based molecular dynamics study of bio-derived polycyclic alkanes as potential alternative jet fuels

Hyunguk Kwon, Aditya Lele, Junqing Zhu, Charles S. McEnally, Lisa D. Pfefferle, Yuan Xuan, Adri C.T. van Duin

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40 Scopus citations


This work investigates the initial stages of the pyrolysis of HtH-1 (C18H32; 2,2,7,7,8a,8b-hexamethyl-dodecahydrobiphenylene) and HtH-2 (C18H34; 1,1′,3,3,3′,3′-hexamethyl-1,1′-bi(cyclohexane)), which are bio-derived polycyclic alkanes and potential jet fuels, using ReaxFF force field based molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Global Arrhenius parameters, such as activation energies and pre-exponential factors, are calculated and used to analyze the overall decomposition kinetics of the fuels. HtH-1 decomposes faster than HtH-2 at the same temperature and density conditions, and they have a faster decomposition rate compared to some existing jet-fuels, such as JP-10. A systematic reaction analysis framework developed in this work is applied to determine a temperature-dependent decomposition mechanism. At lower temperature, the central C–C bond connecting the two cyclohexane rings is dominantly broken in both HtH-1 and HtH-2. However, C-CH3 bond breaking becomes dominant with increasing temperature due to the large increase in entropy during this reaction. Major products from HtH-1 are C5H8 and C4H8, and those from HtH-2 are C4H8 and C2H4. The major products predict that HtH-1 has a higher sooting tendency than HtH-2, which is consistent with measurements. The impact of HtH-2 on the pyrolysis of HtH-1 is also investigated in their binary mixtures. HtH-1 and HtH-2 decompose by unimolecular reactions, and they rarely interact with each other during the pyrolysis of the mixtures. This work demonstrates that ReaxFF can be used to investigate pyrolysis and combustion chemistry of existing or future fuels and to contribute to the development of their chemical kinetic models without any a priori input and chemical intuition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118548
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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