A series of molecular dynamics simulations have been performed on organic-water mixtures near mineral surfaces. These simulations show that, in contrast to apolar compounds, small polar organic compounds such as phenols can penetrate through thin water films to adsorb on these mineral surfaces. Furthermore, additional simulations involving demixing of an organic-water mixture near a surfactant-covered mineral surface demonstrate that even low concentrations of adsorbed polar compounds can induce major changes in mineral surface wettability, allowing sorption of apolar molecules. This strongly supports a two-stage adsorption mechanism for organic solutes, involving initial migration of small polar organic molecules to the mineral surface followed by water film displacement due to co-adsorption of the more apolar organic compounds, thus converting an initial water-wet mineral system to an organic-covered surface. This has profound implications for studies of petroleum reservoir diagenesis and wettability changes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology