Impact of organic solutes on capillary phenomena in water-CO2-quartz systems

Emily Wei Hsin Sun, Ian C. Bourg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Hypothesis: The migration of supercritical CO2 (scCO2) injected into underground reservoirs as part of carbon capture and storage is influenced by organic contamination affecting mineral wettability. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of relevant systems that incorporate representative organic solutes allow detailed investigation of changes in fundamental interfacial and capillary properties. Experiments: We use MD simulations to explore the effects of four organic solutes (quinoline, decanoic acid, coronene, sorgoleone) on the wettability of quartz by water in the presence of scCO2. We examine the impacts of polar, alkyl, and aromatic moieties as well as fluid flow velocity at elevated temperatures and pressures. Findings: Organic molecules accumulate at the water-CO2 interface, where they distribute according to their size and functional groups. Certain organics penetrate the adsorbed water film at the quartz-CO2 interface, revealing two modes of hydrogen bonding between polar organic functional group, water, and quartz surface –OH groups. Interfacial energies and contact angles are minimally impacted by organic adsorption at the water-CO2 interface, possibly due to simultaneous CO2 desorption. Non-equilibrium MD simulations reveal that flow-induced redistribution of organic compounds modulates the radii of curvature of the advancing and receding water-CO2 interfaces. Our results indicate that organic adsorption on water surfaces is likely ubiquitous during multi-phase flow in soils and sedimentary rocks, with implications for the mobilization and transport of organic compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-275
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Colloid And Interface Science
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Biomaterials
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


  • Capillarity
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Contact angle
  • Curvature
  • Disjoining pressure
  • Interfacial tension
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Multi-phase flow
  • Wettability


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