Molecular Dynamics Modeling of Thermal Conductivity of Several Hydrocarbon Base Oils

J Ahmed and QJ Wang and O Balogun and N Ren and R England and F Lockwood, TRIBOLOGY LETTERS, 71, 70 (2023).

DOI: 10.1007/s11249-023-01738-z

This paper is on determination of the thermal conductivities of several hydrocarbon base oils by means of non-equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations using two different force fields. It aims to explore a simulation-based method for lubricant molecular design and analysis concerning heat transfer in electrical vehicle lubrication. Argon was analyzed as a reference for method evaluation, and the results reveal that the calculated conductivity strongly depends on the size of the computational domain. However, for hydrocarbon base oils, the dependence on computation domain size is less prominent as the domain size increases. The method of direct calculation in a sufficiently large computation domain and that of reciprocal extrapolation with data calculated in a much smaller domain are both applicable, and each has a certain value in oil conductivity calculation. The calculated conductivities show certain overpredictions when compared with experimentally measured results, and the overprediction factor is related to number of carbon atoms of the liquid molecules. The results reveal that the thermal conductivity of a single-chain hydrocarbon liquid is linearly proportional to the number of carbon atoms. While each additional branch increases thermal conductivity slightly, the presence of multiple branches reduces it from the ideal linear relationship. A set of equations was formulated to correlate hydrocarbon liquid thermal conductivity with molecular characteristics in terms of number of carbon atoms and number of branches.

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