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Multicomponent charge transport in electrolyte solutions

By Steven Timothy Peter Psaltis

Abstract

The work presented in this thesis investigates the mathematical modelling of charge transport in electrolyte solutions, within the nanoporous structures of electrochemical devices. We compare two approaches found in the literature, by developing onedimensional transport models based on the Nernst-Planck and Maxwell-Stefan equations.\ud \ud The development of the Nernst-Planck equations relies on the assumption that the solution is infinitely dilute. However, this is typically not the case for the electrolyte solutions found within electrochemical devices. Furthermore, ionic concentrations much higher than those of the bulk concentrations can be obtained near the electrode/electrolyte interfaces due to the development of an electric double layer. Hence, multicomponent interactions which are neglected by the Nernst-Planck equations may become important.\ud \ud The Maxwell-Stefan equations account for these multicomponent interactions, and thus they should provide a more accurate representation of transport in electrolyte solutions. To allow for the effects of the electric double layer in both the Nernst-Planck and Maxwell-Stefan equations, we do not assume local electroneutrality in the solution.\ud \ud Instead, we model the electrostatic potential as a continuously varying function, by way of Poisson’s equation. Importantly, we show that for a ternary electrolyte solution at high interfacial concentrations, the Maxwell-Stefan equations predict behaviour that is not recovered from the Nernst-Planck equations.\ud \ud The main difficulty in the application of the Maxwell-Stefan equations to charge transport in electrolyte solutions is knowledge of the transport parameters. In this work, we apply molecular dynamics simulations to obtain the required diffusivities, and thus we are able to incorporate microscopic behaviour into a continuum scale model. This is important due to the small size scales we are concerned with, as we are still able to retain the computational efficiency of continuum modelling. This approach provides an avenue by which the microscopic behaviour may ultimately be incorporated into a full device-scale model.\ud \ud The one-dimensional Maxwell-Stefan model is extended to two dimensions, representing an important first step for developing a fully-coupled interfacial charge transport model for electrochemical devices. It allows us to begin investigation into ambipolar diffusion effects, where the motion of the ions in the electrolyte is affected by the transport of electrons in the electrode. As we do not consider modelling in the solid phase in this work, this is simulated by applying a time-varying potential to one interface of our two-dimensional computational domain, thus allowing a flow field to develop in the electrolyte. Our model facilitates the observation of the transport of ions near the electrode/electrolyte interface. For the simulations considered in this work, we show that while there is some motion in the direction parallel to the interface, the interfacial coupling is not sufficient for the ions in solution to be "dragged" along the interface for long distances

Topics: ambipolar, charge transport, diffusion, diffusivities, double layer, electrochemistry, electrolyte, iodide, lithium, mathematical modelling, migration, Maxwell-Stefan, molecular dynamics, multicomponent, nanoporous, Nernst-Planck, thin film, triiodide, two dimensions
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 2012
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:60964

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