(78b) Exploring Diffusion in Hierarchical Zeolites with Molecular Dynamics Simulations

Authors: 
Siepmann, J. I., University of Minnesota
Bai, P., University of Minnesota
Parhari, S., University of Minnesota
Haldoupis, E., University of Minnesota
Dauenhauer, P., University of Minnesota
Tsapatsis, M., University of Minnesota
Introducing mesoporosity to conventional microporous sorbents or catalysts is often proposed as a solution to enhance their mass transport rates. Here we show that diffusion in these hierarchical materials is more complex and exhibits non-monotonic dependence on sorbate loading. Our atomistic simulations of n-hexane, ethanol, and water in a model system containing microporous nanosheets and mesopore channels indicate that diffusivity can be smaller than in a conventional zeolite with the same micropore structure, and this observation holds true even if we confine the analysis to molecules completely inside the microporous nanosheets. Our model system is free of structural defects, such as pore blocking or surface disorder, that are typically invoked to explain slower-than-expected diffusion phenomena in experimental measurements. Examination of free energy profiles and visualization of molecular diffusion pathways allows us to rationalize the unique transport behavior in hierarchical nanoporous materials.