Molecular Dynamics Simulation of Polyacrylamide Adsorption on Calcite

KY Hue and JH Lew and MMM Thant and OK Matar and PF Luckham and EA Mueller, MOLECULES, 28, 6367 (2023).

DOI: 10.3390/molecules28176367

In poorly consolidated carbonate rock reservoirs, solids production risk, which can lead to increased environmental waste, can be mitigated by injecting formation-strengthening chemicals. Classical atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulation is employed to model the interaction of polyacrylamide-based polymer additives with a calcite structure, which is the main component of carbonate formations. Amongst the possible calcite crystal planes employed as surrogates of reservoir rocks, the (1 0 4) plane is shown to be the most suitable surrogate for assessing the interactions with chemicals due to its stability and more realistic representation of carbonate structure. The molecular conformation and binding energies of pure polyacrylamide (PAM), hydrolysed polyacrylamide in neutral form (HPAM), hydrolysed polyacrylamide with 33% charge density (HPAM 33%) and sulfonated polyacrylamide with 33% charge density (SPAM 33%) are assessed to determine the adsorption characteristics onto calcite surfaces. An adsorption-free energy analysis, using an enhanced umbrella sampling method, is applied to evaluate the chemical adsorption performance. The interaction energy analysis shows that the polyacrylamide-based polymers display favourable interactions with the calcite structure. This is attributed to the electrostatic attraction between the amide and carboxyl functional groups with the calcite. Simulations confirm that HPAM33% has a lower free energy than other polymers, presumably due to the presence of the acrylate monomer in ionised form. The superior chemical adsorption performance of HPAM33% agrees with Atomic Force Microscopy experiments reported herein.

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