Viscosity, relaxation time, and dynamics within a model asphalt of larger molecules

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The dynamics properties of a new "next generation" model asphalt system that represents SHRP AAA-1 asphalt using larger molecules than past models is studied using molecular simulation. The system contains 72 molecules distributed over 12 molecule types that range from nonpolar branched alkanes to polar resins and asphaltenes. Molecular weights range from 290 to 890 g/mol. All-atom molecular dynamics simulations conducted at six temperatures from 298.15 to 533.15 K provide a wealth of correlation data. The modified Kohlrausch-Williams-Watts equation was regressed to reorientation time correlation functions and extrapolated to calculate average rotational relaxation times for individual molecules. The rotational relaxation rate of molecules decreased significantly with increasing size and decreasing temperature. Translational self-diffusion coefficients followed an Arrhenius dependence. Similar activation energies of ∼42 kJ/mol were found for all 12 molecules in the model system, while diffusion prefactors spanned an order of magnitude. Viscosities calculated directly at 533.15 K and estimated at lower temperatures using the Debye-Stokes-Einstein relationship were consistent with experimental data for asphalts. The product of diffusion coefficient and rotational relaxation time showed only small changes with temperature above 358.15 K, indicating rotation and translation that couple self-consistently with viscosity. At lower temperatures, rotation slowed more than diffusion.

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Journal of Chemical Physics