Molecular Dynamics Simulation of the Oil Sequestration Properties of a Nonionic Rhamnolipid

Charles M. Luft, Elango Munusamy, Jeanne E. Pemberton, Steven D. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A detailed molecular dynamics simulation study is presented on the behavior of aggregates composed of the nonionic monorhamnolipid α-rhamnopyranosyl-β-hydroxydecanoyl-β-hydroxydecanoate (Rha-C10-C10) and decane in bulk water. A graph theoretical approach was utilized to characterize the size and composition of the many aggregates generated in our simulations. Overall, we observe that the formation of oil in Rha-C10-C10 aggregates is a favorable process. Detailed analysis on the surfactant/oil aggregate shows that larger aggregates are stable. The shape and size of the aggregates are widely distributed, with the majority of the aggregates preferring ellipsoidal or cylindrical structures. Irrespective of the decane concentration in the system, we did not observe free decane in any of the simulations. Further insights into the binding energy of decane were carried out using free-energy perturbation calculations. The results showed that the trapped decane molecules provide stability to the Rha-C10-C10 aggregates of size N = 50 which are shown to be unstable in our previous study and allow for the growth of larger aggregates than pure Rha-C10-C10 in water. The density profile plots show that decane molecules encapsulated inside the aggregate preferred to remain closer to the center of mass. This study points to the feasibility of using this biosurfactant as an environmental remediation agent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3944-3952
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 12 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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