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Mechanisms Underlying Rapid Electronucleation and Freezing of Hydrates

[+] Author Affiliations
Palash V. Acharya, Arjang Shahriari, Denise Lin, Vaibhav Bahadur

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Paper No. IMECE2017-70206, pp. V008T10A077; 6 pages
  • ASME 2017 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 8: Heat Transfer and Thermal Engineering
  • Tampa, Florida, USA, November 3–9, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5843-1
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Nucleation of hydrates is constrained by very long induction (wait) times, which can range from hours to days. Electronucleation (application of an electrical potential across the precursor solution) can significantly reduce the induction time for nucleation. This study shows that porous aluminum foams (open-cell) enable near-instantaneous electronucleation at very low voltages. Experiments with tetrahydrofuran hydrates reveal that aluminum foam electrodes enable voltage-dependent nucleation with induction times of only tens of seconds at voltages as low as 20 V. Foam-based electrodes can reduce the induction time by up to 150X when compared to non-foam electrodes. Furthermore, this study reveals that electronucleation can be attributed to two distinct phenomena, namely bubble generation (due to electrolysis), and the formation of metal-ion coordination compounds. These mechanisms affect the induction time to different extents and depend on electrode material and polarity. Overall, this work uncovers the benefits of using foams for formation of hydrates, with foams aiding nucleation as well as propagation of the hydrate formation front.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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