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Phase equilibria and interface properties of hydrocarbon propellant–oxygen mixtures in the transcritical regime

Nitzke, Isabel; Stierle, Rolf; Stephan, Simon; Pfitzner, Michael; Gross, Joachim; Vrabec, Jadran

Vapor–liquid equilibria and fluid interface properties of binary mixtures containing either methane or cyclohexane representing fuel and nitrogen or oxygen are reported. The mixtures are studied at different temperatures and pressures, which are chosen such that the temperature of the fuel component is subcritical, while that of the gaseous component is mainly supercritical. Data are obtained from molecular dynamics (MD) simulation, as well as density functional theory and density gradient theory in combination with the PC-SAFT equation of state (EOS). The studied interface properties include surface tension, interface thickness, enrichment, and relative adsorption. Furthermore, bulk vapor–liquid equilibrium properties are computed with two distinct MD methods as well as the PC-SAFT EOS. All approaches are compared to data from highly accurate empirical EOS. Despite the fundamental differences between these methods, very good agreement between the results of MD, density functional theory, and density gradient theory and EOS data is observed for the phase equilibria and interface properties, reinforcing the present predictions. It is found that the equivalence of nitrogen to oxygen is rather limited, in particular for the methane propellant. The disparities are particularly pronounced for low temperatures, where the compositions of the bulk phases differ significantly. As a result, enthalpy of vaporization as well as surface tension attains much higher values for mixtures containing oxygen.
Published in: Physics of Fluids, 10.1063/5.0138973, American Institute of Physics