On the predictions and limitations of the Becker-Döring model for reaction kinetics in micellar surfactant solutions.
Griffiths IM., Bain CD., Breward CJW., Colegate DM., Howell PD., Waters SL.
We investigate the breakdown of a system of micellar aggregates in a surfactant solution following an order-one dilution. We derive a mathematical model based on the Becker-Döring system of equations, using realistic expressions for the reaction constants fit to results from Molecular Dynamics simulations. We exploit the largeness of typical aggregation numbers to derive a continuum model, substituting a large system of ordinary differential equations for a partial differential equation in two independent variables: time and aggregate size. Numerical solutions demonstrate that re-equilibration occurs in two distinct stages over well-separated timescales, in agreement with experiment and with previous theories. We conclude by exposing a limitation in the Becker-Döring theory for re-equilibration of surfactant solutions.