The intermolecular structure formation in liquid and supercritical acetic acid-water mixtures was investigated using ReaxFF-based molecular dynamics simulations. The microscopic structures of acetic acid-water mixtures with different acetic acid mole fractions (1.0 ≥ xHAc ≥ 0.2) at ambient and critical conditions were examined. The potential energy surface associated with the dissociation of acetic acid molecules was calculated using a metadynamics procedure to optimize the dissociation energy of ReaxFF potential. At ambient conditions, depending on the acetic acid concentration, either acetic acid clusters or water clusters are dominant in the liquid mixture. When acetic acid is dominant (0.4 ≤ xHAc), cyclic dimers and chain structures between acetic acid molecules are present in the mixture. Both structures disappear at increased water content of the mixture. It was found by simulations that the acetic acid molecules released from these dimer and chain structures tend to stay in a dipole-dipole interaction. These structural changes are in agreement with the experimental results. When switched to critical conditions, the long-range interactions (e.g., second or fourth neighbor) disappear and the water-water and acetic acid-acetic acid structural formations become disordered. The simulated radial distribution function for water-water interactions is in agreement with experimental and computational studies. The first neighbor interactions between acetic acid and water molecules are preserved at relatively lower temperatures of the critical region. As higher temperatures are reached in the critical region, these interactions were observed to weaken. These simulations indicate that ReaxFF molecular dynamics simulations are an appropriate tool for studying supercritical water/organic acid mixtures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry