Temperature and Pressure Dependence of Salt-Brine Dihedral Angles in the Subsurface

JM Rimsza and KL Kuhlman, LANGMUIR, 37, 13291-13299 (2021).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.1c01836

Elevated temperature and pressure in the earth's subsurface alters the permeability of salt formations, due to changing properties of the salt- brine interface. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are used to investigate the mechanisms of temperature and pressure dependence of liquid-solid interfacial tensions of NaCl, KCl, and NaCl-KCl brines in contact with (100) salt surfaces. Salt-brine dihedral angles vary between 55 and 76 degrees across the temperature (300-450 K) and pressure range (0-150 MPa) evaluated. Temperature-dependent brine composition results in elevated dihedral angles of 65-80 degrees, which falls above the reported salt percolation threshold of 60 degrees. Mixed NaCl-KCl brine compositions increased this effect. Elevated temperatures excluded dissolved Na+ ions from the interface, causing the strong temperature dependence of the liquid-solid interfacial tension and the resulting dihedral angle. Therefore, at higher temperature, pressure, and brine concentrations Na-Cl systems may underpredict the dihedral angle. Higher dihedral angles in more realistic mixed brine systems maintain low permeability of salt formations due to changes in the structure and energetics of the salt-brine interface.

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