skip to main content

Title: Combining Novel Simulation Methods and Nucleation Theory to Uncover the Secrets of Gas Hydrates

Conventional computer simulation methods fail for some of the most important problems. With the design and application of innovative algorithms, this project achieved a breakthrough for the case of systems undergoing first-order phase transitions. We gave a complete simulation protocol based upon a well optimized version of our "generalized replica exchange method". The transition of primary interest was gas hydrate formation, a process of significance for climate science and natural gas retrieval. Since hydrates consist of guest molecules in the cages of a water matrix, β ice, the freezing and melting of water was also studied. New information was uncovered about the transition pathways and thermodynamics. Some highlights are 1. the finding that in a very dilute solution without deep supercooling, representative of real-world conditions and very challenging to conventional algorithms, methane can act as a catalyst to drive the formation of large amounts of β ice with empty cages as metastable intermediates, which might be filled by additional methane in a mechanism for hydrate formation, and 2. illumination of the role of metastable cubic ice in water freezing, with determination of the surface tensions of the cubic, hexagonal, and β ices, and the free energy difference of cubic vsmore » hexagonal ice. Work was begun on lipid systems, bilayers and nanoreactors promising for energy-related photoreductions, and targets for future research. Our methods yielded what is arguably the most complete description of the composite lipid/water phases and the transition pathways among them.« less
  1. Boston Univ., MA (United States). Dept. of Chemistry
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Boston Univ., MA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 97 MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTING computer simulation; phase transitions; water; hydrates; algorithm design