Steric effects in the dynamics of electrolytes at large applied voltages. II. Modified Poisson-Nernst-Planck equations
In situations involving large potentials or surface charges, the Poisson-Boltzman (PB) equation has shortcomings because it neglects ion-ion interactions and steric effects. This has been widely recognized by the electrochemistry community, leading to the development of various alternative models resulting in different sets “modified PB equations,” which have had at least qualitative success in predicting equilibrium ion distributions. On the other hand, the literature is scarce in terms of descriptions of concentration dynamics in these regimes. Here, adapting strategies developed to modify the PB equation, we propose a simple modification of the widely used Poisson-Nernst-Planck (PNP) equations for ionic transport, which at least qualitatively accounts for steric effects. We analyze numerical solutions of these modified PNP equations on the model problem of the charging of a simple electrolyte cell, and compare the outcome to that of the standard PNP equations. Finally, we repeat the asymptotic analysis of Bazant, Thornton and Ajdari Phys. Rev. E 70 021506 (2004) for this new system of equations to further document the interest and limits of validity of the simpler equivalent electrical circuit models introduced in Part I [ Kilic, Bazant and Ajdari Phys. Rev. E 75 021502 (2007) for such problems.