Non-polarizable empirical potentials have been shown not to be able to capture the mixing of methane–water mixtures at elevated pressures. Although DFT-based ab initio simulations may circumvent this discrepancy, they are limited in terms of the relevant time and length scales associated with mixing phenomena. Here we show that the many-body MB-nrg potential, designed to reproduce methane–water interactions with coupled cluster accuracy, successfully captures this phenomenon up to 3 GPa and 500 K with varying methane concentration. Two-phase simulations and long time scales that are required to fully capture the mixing, affordable due to the speed and accuracy of the MBX software, are assessed. Constructing the methane–water equation of state across the phase diagram shows that the stable mixtures are denser than the sum of their parts at a given pressure and temperature. We find that many-body polarization plays a central role, enhancing the induced dipole moments of methane by 0.20 D during mixing under pressure. Overall, the mixed system adopts a denser state, which involves a significant enthalpic driving force as elucidated by a systematic many-body energy decomposition analysis.
We corrected a typo in the name of one of the authors (Colin K. Egan)