Toward predictive molecular dynamics simulations of asphaltenes in toluene and heptane

Artyom D. Glova, Sergey V. Larin, Victor M. Nazarychev, Josè M. Kenny, Alexey V. Lyulin, Sergey V. Lyulin (Corresponding author)

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The conventional definition of asphaltenes is based on their solubility in toluene and their insolubility in heptane. We have utilized this definition to study the influence of partial charge parametrization on the aggregation behavior of asphaltenes using classical atomistic molecular dynamics simulations performed on the microsecond time scale. Under consideration here are toluene- and heptane-based systems with different partial charges parametrized using the general AMBER force field (GAFF). Systems with standard GAFF partial charges calculated by the AM1-BCC and HF/6-31G*(RESP) methods were simulated alongside systems without partial charges. The partial charges implemented differ in terms of the resulting electrical negativity of the asphaltene polyaromatic core, with the AM1-BCC method giving the greatest magnitude of the total core charge. Based on our analysis of the molecular relaxation and orientation, and on the aggregation behavior of asphaltenes in toluene and heptane, we proposed to use the partial charges obtained by the AM1-BCC method for the study of asphaltene aggregates. A good agreement with available experimental data was observed on the sizes of the aggregates, their fractal dimensions, and the solvent entrainment for the model asphaltenes in toluene and heptane. From the results obtained, we conclude that for a better predictive ability, simulation parameters must be carefully chosen, with particular attention paid to the partial charges owing to their influence on the electrical negativity of the asphaltene core and on the asphaltenes aggregation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20005-20014
Number of pages10
JournalACS Omega
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2019


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