A variant of the direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method, referred to as direct molecular simulation (DMS), is used to study oxygen dissociation from first principles. The sole model input to the DMS calculations consists of 12 potential energy surfaces that govern O2 + O2 and O + O2 collisions, including all spin-spatial degenerate configurations, in the ground electronic state. DMS calculations are representative of the gas evolution behind a strong shock wave, where molecular oxygen excites rotationally and vibrationally before ultimately dissociating and reaching a quasi-steady-state (QSS). Vibrational relaxation time constants are presented for both O2 + O2 and O + O2 collisions and are found to agree closely with experimental data. Compared to O2 + O2 collisions, vibrational relaxation due to O + O2 collisions is found to be ten times faster and to have a weak dependence on temperature. Dissociation rate constants in the QSS dissociation phase are presented for both O2 + O2 and O + O2 collisions and agree (within experimental uncertainty) with rates inferred from shock-tube experiments. Both experiments and simulations indicate that the QSS dissociation rate coefficients for O + O2 interactions are about two times greater than the ones for O2 + O2. DMS calculations predict this to be a result of nonequilibrium (non-Boltzmann) internal energy distributions. Specifically, the increased dissociation rate is caused by faster vibrational relaxation, due to O + O2 collisions, which alters the vibrational energy distribution function in the QSS by populating higher energy states that readily dissociate. Although existing experimental data appear to support this prediction, experiments with lower uncertainty are needed for quantitative validation. The DMS data presented for rovibrational relaxation and dissociation in oxygen could be used to formulate models for DSMC and computational fluid dynamics methods.
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The research presented was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) under Grant No. FA9550-16-1-0161. The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of the AFOSR or the U.S. government.