A molecular level understanding of the interactions between hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs) and sediments is needed in order to assess contaminant fate in the environment. Grand canonical Monte Carlo simulations were performed to investigate water and trichloroethylene (TCE) adsorption in slit micropores confined by charged and uncharged silica surfaces. Gas-phase single-sorbate simulations with water or TCE were performed as well as mixture simulations of bulk water containing TCE at 1% of its saturation concentration. Gas-phase isosteric heats for water adsorption in the uncharged pores ranged from -40 to -52 kJ/mol, and the densities of the adsorbed water phases were always less than that for bulk water. Gas-phase isosteric heats for water adsorption in the charged pores ranged from -79 to -170 kJ/mol, and the densities of the adsorbed water phases were close to that for bulk water. The isosteric heats and water densities indicated that the uncharged pores were mildly hydrophobic, and the charged pores were very hydrophilic. In mixture simulations of adsorption from solution, the presence of water promoted TCE adsorption in uncharged pores with widths between 14 and 20 Å. The isosteric heats for TCE adsorption from solution ranged from -14 to -27 kJ/mol in the uncharged pores and from -9.3 to -50 kJ/mol in the charged pores. Strong attractions to the pore surfaces were significantly diminished after adsorption of the first two monolayers of either adsorbate. Aqueous-phase TCE at a concentration equal to 1% of its saturation concentration was able to completely displace adsorbed water in uncharged pores. Even in highly hydrophilic pores, TCE at this concentration was able to displace up to 50% of the adsorbed water. Apparent differential enthalpies of adsorption determined from the temperature dependence of TCE adsorption isotherms underestimated the magnitude of the true isosteric heats of adsorption by up to 30 kJ/ mol. This shows that HOC adsorption enthalpies determined from the temperature dependence of their adsorption isotherms underestimate the true strength of HOC-adsorbent interactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry