Phase field modelling of spinodal decomposition in the oil/water/asphaltene system

Gyula Tóth1, Bjørn Kvamme2

1Department of Mathematical Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, U.K.
2Institute of Physics and Technology, University of Bergen, Allégaten 55, N-5007 Bergen, Norway

In this paper the quantitative applicability of van der Sman/van der Graaf type Ginzburg–Landau theories of surfactant assisted phase separation [van der Sman et al., Rheol. Acta, 2006, 46, 3] is studied for real systems displaying high surfactant concentrations at the liquid–liquid interface. The model is applied for the water/heptane/asphaltene system (a model of heavy crude oil), for which recent molecular dynamics (MD) simulations provide microscopic data needed to calibrate the theory. A list of general requirements is set up first, which is then followed by analytical calculations of the equilibrium properties of the system, such as the equilibrium liquid densities, the adsorption isotherm and the interfacial tension. Based on the results of these calculations, the model parameters are then determined numerically, yielding a reasonable reproduction of the MD density profiles. The results of time-dependent simulations addressing the dynamical behaviour of the system will also be presented. It will be shown that the competition between the diffusion and hydrodynamic time scales can lead to the formation of an emulsion. We also address the main difficulties and limitations of the theory regarding quantitative modelling of surfactant assisted liquid phase separation.

Topics: Emulsion

Ternary eutectic dendrites: Pattern formation and scaling properties

László Rátkai1, Attila Szállás1, Tamás Pusztai1, Tetsuo Mohri, László Gránásy1,2

1Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics, Wigner Research Centre for Physics, P.O. Box 49, Budapest H-1525, Hungary
2BCAST, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH, United Kingdom

Extending previous work [Pusztai et al., Phys. Rev. E 87, 032401 (2013)], we have studied the formation of eutectic dendrites in a model ternary system within the framework of the phase-field theory. We have mapped out the domain in which two-phase dendritic structures grow. With increasing pulling velocity, the following sequence of growth morphologies is observed: flat front lamellae → eutectic colonies → eutectic dendrites → dendrites with target pattern → partitionless dendrites → partitionless flat front. We confirm that the two-phase and one-phase dendrites have similar forms and display a similar scaling of the dendrite tip radius with the interface free energy. It is also found that the possible eutectic patterns include the target pattern, and single- and multiarm spirals, of which the thermal fluctuations choose. The most probable number of spiral arms increases with increasing tip radius and with decreasing kinetic anisotropy. Our numerical simulations confirm that in agreement with the assumptions of a recent analysis of two-phase dendrites [Akamatsu et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 105502 (2014)], the Jackson-Hunt scaling of the eutectic wavelength with pulling velocity is obeyed in the parameter domain explored, and that the natural eutectic wavelength is proportional to the tip radius of the two-phase dendrites. Finally, we find that it is very difficult/virtually impossible to form spiraling two-phase dendrites without anisotropy, an observation that seems to contradict the expectations of Akamatsu et al. Yet, it cannot be excluded that in isotropic systems, two-phase dendrites are rare events difficult to observe in simulations.

Topics: Spiral eutectic dendrites

Analysis of Ginzburg-Landau-type models of surfactant-assisted liquid phase separation

Gyula Tóth1, Bjørn Kvamme2

1Department of Mathematical Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, U.K.
2Institute of Physics and Technology, University of Bergen, Allégaten 55, N-5007 Bergen, Norway

In this paper diffuse interface models of surfactant-assisted liquid-liquid phase separation are addressed. We start from the generalized version of the Ginzburg-Landau free-energy-functional-based model of van der Sman and van der Graaf. First, we analyze the model in the constant surfactant approximation and show the presence of a critical point at which the interfacial tension vanishes. Then we determine the adsorption isotherms and investigate the validity range of previous results. As a key point of the work, we propose a new model of the van der Sman/van der Graaf type designed for avoiding both unwanted unphysical effects and numerical difficulties present in previous models. In order to make the model suitable for describing real systems, we determine the interfacial tension analytically more precisely and analyze it over the entire accessible surfactant load range. Emerging formulas are then validated by calculating the interfacial tension from the numerical solution of the Euler-Lagrange equations. Time-dependent simulations are also performed to illustrate the slowdown of the phase separation near the critical point and to prove that the dynamics of the phase separation is driven by the interfacial tension.

Topics: Emulsion

Phase-Field Modeling of Solidification in Light-Metal Matrix Nanocomposites

Tamás Pusztai1, László Rátkai1, Attila Szállás1, László Gránásy1,2

1Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics, Wigner Research Centre for Physics, P.O. Box 49, Budapest H-1525, Hungary
2BCAST, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH, United Kingdom

The quantitative phase-field approach has been adapted to model solidification in the presence of Metal Matrix Nanocomposites (MMNCs) in a single-component liquid. Nanoparticles of fixedsize and shape are represented by additional fields. The corresponding equations of motion are assumed to ensure relaxation dynamics, and can be supplemented by random forces (realizing Brownian motion) or external fields. The nanoparticles are characterized by two model parameters: their mobility and the contact angle they realize with the solid-liquid interface. We investigate the question how grain size distribution can be influenced by heterogeneous nucleation on the nanoparticles and by the front-particle interaction. We explore, furthermore, how materials and process parameters, such as temperature, density and size/shape distribution of the nanoparticles, influence microstructure evolution.

Topics: Heterogeneous nucleation

Heterogeneous nucleation of/on nanoparticles: a density functional study using the phase-field crystal model

László Gránásy1,2, Frigyes Podmaniczky1, Gyula Tóth3, György Tegze1, Tamás Pusztai1

1Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics, Wigner Research Centre for Physics, P.O. Box 49, Budapest H-1525, Hungary
2BCAST, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH, United Kingdom
3Department of Mathematical Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, U.K.

Crystallization of supersaturated liquids usually starts by heterogeneous nucleation. Mounting evidence shows that even homogeneous nucleation in simple liquids takes place in two steps; first a dense amorphous precursor forms, and the crystalline phase appears via heterogeneous nucleation in/on the precursor cluster. Herein, we review recent results by a simple dynamical density functional theory, the phase-field crystal model, for (precursor-mediated) homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation of nanocrystals. It will be shown that the mismatch between the lattice constants of the nucleating crystal and the substrate plays a decisive role in determining the contact angle and nucleation barrier, which were found to be non-monotonic functions of the lattice mismatch. Time dependent studies are essential as investigations based on equilibrium properties often cannot identify the preferred nucleation pathways. Modeling of these phenomena is essential for designing materials on the basis of controlled nucleation and/or nano-patterning.

Topics: Heterogeneous nucleation, Phase field crystal

Phase-Field Modeling of Polycrystalline Solidification: From Needle Crystals to Spherulites-A Review

László Gránásy1,2, László Rátkai1, Attila Szállás1, Bálint Korbuly1, Gyula Tóth3, László Környei4, Tamás Pusztai1

1Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics, Wigner Research Centre for Physics, P.O. Box 49, Budapest H-1525, Hungary
2BCAST, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH, United Kingdom
3Department of Mathematical Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, U.K.
4Department of Mathematics and Computational Sciences, Széchenyi István University, Győr 9026, Hungary

Advances in the orientation-field-based phase-field (PF) models made in the past are reviewed. The models applied incorporate homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation of growth centers and several mechanisms to form new grains at the perimeter of growing crystals, a phenomenon termed growth front nucleation. Examples for PF modeling of such complex polycrystalline structures are shown as impinging symmetric dendrites, polycrystalline growth forms (ranging from disordered dendrites to spherulitic patterns), and various eutectic structures, including spiraling two-phase dendrites. Simulations exploring possible control of solidification patterns in thin films via external fields, confined geometry, particle additives, scratching/piercing the films, etc. are also displayed. Advantages, problems, and possible solutions associated with quantitative PF simulations are discussed briefly.

Topics: Polycrystalline solidification, Spiral eutectic dendrites

Free energy of the bcc-liquid interface and the Wulff shape as predicted by the phase-field crystal model

Frigyes Podmaniczky1, Gyula Tóth2, Tamás Pusztai1, László Gránásy1,3

1Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics, Wigner Research Centre for Physics, P.O. Box 49, Budapest H-1525, Hungary
2Department of Mathematical Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, U.K.
3BCAST, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH, United Kingdom

The Euler-Lagrange equation of the phase-field crystal (PFC) model has been solved under appropriate boundary conditions to obtain the equilibrium free energy of the body centered cubic crystal-liquid interface for 18 orientations at various reduced temperatures in the range ε∈[0,0.5]. While the maximum free energy corresponds to the {100} orientation for all ε values, the minimum is realized by the {111} direction for smaller ε(<0.13), and by the {211} orientation for higher ε. The predicted dependence on the reduced temperature is consistent with the respective mean field critical exponent. The results are fitted with an eight-term Kubic harmonic series, and are used to create stereographic plots displaying the anisotropy of the interface free energy. We have also derived the corresponding Wulff shapes that vary with increasing ε from sphere to a polyhedral form that differs from the rhombo-dodecahedron obtained previously by growing a bcc seed until reaching equilibrium with the remaining liquid.

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