Hybrid molecular-continuum simulations of water flow through carbon nanotube membranes of realistic thickness

Konstantions Ritos, Matthew K. Borg, Duncan A. Lockerby, David R. Emerson, Jason Reese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We present new hybrid molecular-continuum simulations of water flow through filtration membranes. The membranes consist of aligned carbon nanotubes(CNTs) of high aspect ratio, where the tube diameters are 1-2 nm and the tube lengths (i.e. the membrane thicknesses) are 2-6 orders of magnitude larger than this. The flow in the tubes is sub-continuum, so standard continuum fluid equations cannot adequately model the flow; also full molecular dynamics simulations are too computationally expensive for modelling these membrane thicknesses. However, various degrees of scale separation in both time and space in this problem can be exploited by a multiscale method: we use the serial-network internal-flow multiscale method (SeN-IMM). Our results from this hybrid method compare very well to full MD simulations of flow cases up to a membrane thickness of 150 nm, beyond which any full MD simulation is computational intractable. We proceed to use the SeN-IMM to predict the flow in membranes of thicknesses 150 nm to 2 nm, and compare these results with both a modified Hagen-Poiseuille flow equation and experimental results for the same membrane configuration. We also find good agreement between numerical and experimental results for a 1 mm thick membrane made of CNTs with diameters around 1.1 nm. In this case, the hybrid simulation is orders of magnitude quicker than a full MD simulation would be.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997-1010
JournalMicrofluidics and Nanofluidics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • multiscale fluid dynamics
  • Hybrid methods
  • molecular dynamics
  • scale separation
  • micro-fluidics
  • Nanofluidics
  • Nanotubes
  • Membranes
  • Coupling


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