Reactive force fields for modeling oxidative degradation of organic matter in geological formations

J Hur and YN Abousleiman and KL Hull and MJA Qomi, RSC ADVANCES, 11, 29298-29307 (2021).

DOI: 10.1039/d1ra04397h

In an attempt to better explore organic matter reaction and properties, at depth, to oxidative fluid additives, we have developed a new ReaxFF potential to model and describe the oxidative decompositions of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons in the presence of the oxychlorine ClOn- oxidizers. By carefully adjusting the new H/C/O/Cl parameters, we show that the potential energies in both training and validation sets correlate well with calculated density functional theory (DFT) energies. Our parametrization yields a reliable empirical reactive force field with an RMS error of similar to 1.57 eV, corresponding to a 1.70% average error. At this accuracy level, the reactive force field provides a reliable atomic-level picture of thermodynamically favorable reaction pathways governing oxidative degradation of H/C/O/Cl compounds. We demonstrate this capability by studying the structural degradation of small aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons in the presence of oxychlorine oxidizers in aqueous environments. We envision that such reactive force fields will be critical in understanding the oxidation processes of organic matter in geological reservoirs and the design of the next generation of reactive fluids for enhanced shale gas recovery and improved carbon dioxide adsorption and sequestration.

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