This study aims to elucidate the impact of salinity on the interactions governing the adsorption of polar aromatic oil compounds onto calcite. To this end, molecular dynamics simulations were employed to assess adsorption of a model polar organic molecule (deprotonated benzoic acid, benzoate) on the calcite surface in NaCl brines of different concentration levels, namely, deionized water (DW), low-salinity water (LS, 5000 ppm), and sea water (SW; 45,000 ppm). Calcite was found to be completely covered by several well-ordered water layers. The top hydration layer is very compact and prevents direct adsorption of benzoates onto the substrate. Instead, Na+ ions form a distinct positively charged layer by adhering on the calcite substrate through inner-sphere complexion mode. Cl– ions mostly lodge on top of the adsorbed sodium cations, forming a negatively charged layer. The distribution of ions at the calcite/brine interface thus exhibits the features of an electrical double layer, composed of a Stern-like positive layer followed by a negative one. The positive charged layer attracts benzoates toward the surface. As such, the sodium ions attached onto the calcite can act as adsorption sites to connect benzoates to the surface. By increasing the salinity, more Na+ ions adsorb onto the calcite surface, and the density of benzoate molecules at the interface is enhanced as a result of more Na+ bridging ions. The monotonic salinity-dependent adsorption of benzoate molecules on calcite offers a mechanism driving additional oil recovery upon injection of diluted brine into subsurface carbonate reservoirs.
|Journal||The Journal of Physical Chemistry Part B (Biophysical Chemistry, Biomaterials, Liquids, and Soft Matter)|
|Publication status||Published - 2020|