Molecular Modeling of Thermodynamic and Transport Properties for CO2 and Aqueous Brines

Hao Jiang, Ioannis G. Economou, Athanassios Z. Panagiotopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Conspectus Molecular simulation techniques using classical force-fields occupy the space between ab initio quantum mechanical methods and phenomenological correlations. In particular, Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics algorithms can be used to provide quantitative predictions of thermodynamic and transport properties of fluids relevant for geologic carbon sequestration at conditions for which experimental data are uncertain or not available. These methods can cover time and length scales far exceeding those of quantum chemical methods, while maintaining transferability and predictive power lacking from phenomenological correlations. The accuracy of predictions depends sensitively on the quality of the molecular models used. Many existing fixed-point-charge models for water and aqueous mixtures fail to represent accurately these fluid properties, especially when descriptions covering broad ranges of thermodynamic conditions are needed. Recent work on development of accurate models for water, CO2, and dissolved salts, as well as their mixtures, is summarized in this Account. Polarizable models that can respond to the different dielectric environments in aqueous versus nonaqueous phases are necessary for predictions of properties over extended ranges of temperatures and pressures. Phase compositions and densities, activity coefficients of the dissolved salts, interfacial tensions, viscosities and diffusivities can be obtained in near-quantitative agreement to available experimental data, using relatively modest computational resources. In some cases, for example, for the composition of the CO2-rich phase in coexistence with an aqueous phase, recent results from molecular simulations have helped discriminate among conflicting experimental data sets. The sensitivity of properties on the quality of the intermolecular interaction model varies significantly. Properties such as the phase compositions or electrolyte activity coefficients are much more sensitive than phase densities, viscosities, or component diffusivities. Strong confinement effects on physical properties in nanoscale media can also be directly obtained from molecular simulations. Future work on molecular modeling for CO2 and aqueous brines is likely to be focused on more systematic generation of interaction models by utilizing quantum chemical as well as direct experimental measurements. New ion models need to be developed for use with the current generation of polarizable water models, including ion-ion interactions that will allow for accurate description of dense, mixed brines. Methods will need to be devised that go beyond the use of effective potentials for incorporation of quantum effects known to be important for water, and reactive force fields developed that can handle bond creation and breaking in systems with carbonate and silicate minerals. Another area of potential future work is the integration of molecular simulation methods in multiscale models for the chemical reactions leading to mineral dissolution and flow within the porous media in underground formations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-758
Number of pages8
JournalAccounts of chemical research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 18 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular Modeling of Thermodynamic and Transport Properties for CO2 and Aqueous Brines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this