Minimum current for detachment of electrolytic bubbles

YX Zhang and D Lohse, JOURNAL OF FLUID MECHANICS, 975, R3 (2023).

DOI: 10.1017/jfm.2023.898

The efficiency of water electrolysis is significantly impacted by the generation of micro- and nanobubbles on the electrodes. Here molecular dynamics simulations are used to investigate the dynamics of single electrolytic nanobubbles on nanoelectrodes. The simulations reveal that, depending on the value of current, nucleated nanobubbles either grow to an equilibrium state or grow unlimitedly and then detach. To account for these findings, the stability theory for surface nanobubbles is generalized by incorporating the electrolytic gas influx at the nanobubble's contact line and adopting a real gas law, leading to accurate predictions for the numerically observed transient growth and stationary states of the nanobubbles. With this theory, the minimum current for bubble detachment can also be derived analytically. In the detachment regime, the radius of the nanobubble first increases with time (t) as R proportional to t(1/2) and then as R proportional to t(1/3), up to bubble detachment.

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