Nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulation of water transport through carbon nanotube membranes at low pressure
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Nonequilibrium molecular dynamics (NEMD) simulations are used to investigate pressure-driven water flow passing through carbon nanotube (CNT) membranes at low pressures (5.0 MPa) typical of real nanofiltration (NF) systems. The CNT membrane is modeled as a simplified NF membrane with smooth surfaces, and uniform straight pores of typical NF pore sizes. A NEMD simulation system is constructed to study the effects of the membrane structure (pores size and membrane thickness) on the pure water transport properties. All simulations are run under operating conditions (temperature and pressure difference) similar to a real NF processes. Simulation results are analyzed to obtain water flux, density, and velocity distributions along both the flow and radial directions. Results show that water flow through a CNT membrane under a pressure difference has the unique transport properties of very fast flow and a non-parabolic radial distribution of velocities which cannot be represented by the Hagen-Poiseuille or Navier-Stokes equations. Density distributions along radial and flow directions show that water molecules in the CNT form layers with an oscillatory density profile, and have a lower average density than in the bulk flow. The NEMD simulations provide direct access to dynamic aspects of water flow through a CNT membrane and give a view of the pressure-driven transport phenomena on a molecular scale.
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