Here, we perform molecular dynamics simulations to provide atomic-level insights into the dual roles of methanol in enhancing and delaying the rate of methane clathrate hydrate nucleation. Consistent with experiments, we find that methanol slows clathrate hydrate nucleation above 250 K but promotes clathrate formation at temperatures below 250 K. We show that this behavior can be rationalized by the unusual temperature dependence of the methane-methanol interaction in an aqueous solution, which emerges due to the hydrophobic effect. In addition to its antifreeze properties at temperatures above 250 K, methanol competes with water to interact with methane prior to the formation of clathrate nuclei. Below 250 K, methanol encourages water to occupy the space between methane molecules favoring clathrate formation and it may additionally promote water mobility.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry