We investigate the mechanism of a typical kinetic hydrate inhibitor (KHI), polyvinylcaprolactam (PVCap), which has been applied to prevent hydrate plugs from forming in gas pipe lines, using molecular dynamics simulations of crystal growth of ethylene oxide hydrate. Water-soluble ethylene oxide is chosen as a guest species to avoid problems associated with the presence of the gas phase in the simulation cell such as slow crystal growth. A PVCap dodecamer adsorbs irreversibly on the hydrate surface which grows at supercooling of 3 K when the hydrophobic part of two pendent groups are trapped in open cages at the surface. The amide hydrogen bonds make no contribution to the adsorption. PVCap can adsorb on various crystallographic planes of sI hydrate. This is in contrast to antifreeze proteins, each of which prefers a specific plane of ice. The trapped PVCap gives rise to necessarily the concave surface of the hydrate. The crystal growth rate decreases with increasing surface curvature, indicating that the inhibition by PVCap is explained by the Gibbs-Thomson effect.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry