Classical and reactive molecular dynamics: Principles and applications in combustion and energy systems

Q Mao and MY Feng and XZ Jiang and YH Ren and KH Luo and ACT van Duin, PROGRESS IN ENERGY AND COMBUSTION SCIENCE, 97, 101084 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.pecs.2023.101084

Molecular dynamics (MD) has evolved into a ubiquitous, versatile and powerful computational method for fundamental research in science branches such as biology, chemistry, biomedicine and physics over the past 60 years. Powered by rapidly advanced supercomputing technologies in recent decades, MD has entered the engi-neering domain as a first- principle predictive method for material properties, physicochemical processes, and even as a design tool. Such developments have far- reaching consequences, and are covered for the first time in the present paper, with a focus on MD for combustion and energy systems encompassing topics like gas/liquid/ solid fuel oxidation, pyrolysis, catalytic combustion, heterogeneous combustion, electrochemistry, nanoparticle synthesis, heat transfer, phase change, and fluid mechanics. First, the theoretical framework of the MD meth-odology is described systemically, covering both classical and reactive MD. The emphasis is on the development of the reactive force field (ReaxFF) MD, which enables chemical reactions to be simulated within the MD framework, utilizing quantum chemistry calculations and/or experimental data for the force field training. Second, details of the numerical methods, boundary conditions, post-processing and computational costs of MD simulations are provided. This is followed by a critical review of selected applications of classical and reactive MD methods in combustion and energy systems. It is demonstrated that the ReaxFF MD has been successfully deployed to gain fundamental insights into pyrolysis and/or oxidation of gas/liquid/solid fuels, revealing detailed energy changes and chemical pathways. Moreover, the complex physico-chemical dynamic processes in catalytic reactions, soot formation, and flame synthesis of nanoparticles are made plainly visible from an atomistic perspective. Flow, heat transfer and phase change phenomena are also scrutinized by MD simulations. Unprecedented details of nanoscale processes such as droplet collision, fuel droplet evaporation, and CO2 capture and storage under subcritical and supercritical conditions are examined at the atomic level. Finally, the outlook for atomistic simulations of combustion and energy systems is discussed in the context of emerging computing platforms, machine learning and multiscale modelling.

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