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Title: Risk Assessment and Monitoring of Stored CO2 in Organic Rocks Under Non-Equilibrium Conditions

The USA is embarking upon tackling the serious environmental challenges posed to the world by greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2). The dimension of the problem is daunting. In fact, according to the Energy Information Agency, nearly 6 billion metric tons of CO2 were produced in the USA in 2007 with coal-burning power plants contributing about 2 billion metric tons. To mitigate the concerns associated with CO2 emission, geological sequestration holds promise. Among the potential geological storage sites, unmineable coal seams and shale formations in particular show promise because of the probability of methane recovery while sequestering the CO2. However. the success of large-scale sequestration of CO2 in coal and shale would hinge on a thorough understanding of CO2's interactions with host reservoirs. An important parameter for successful storage of CO2 reservoirs would be whether the pressurized CO2 would remain invariant in coal and shale formations under reasonable internal and/or external perturbations. Recent research has brought to the fore the potential of induced seismicity, which may result in caprock compromise. Therefore, to evaluate the potential risks involved in sequestering CO2 in Illinois bituminous coal seams and shale, we studied: (i) the mechanical behavior of Murphysboro (Illinois) and Houchin Creek (Illinois)more » coals, (ii) thermodynamic behavior of Illinois bituminous coal at - 100oC ≤ T ≤ 300oC, (iii) how high pressure CO2 (up to 20.7 MPa) modifies the viscosity of the host, (iv) the rate of emission of CO2 from Illinois bituminous coal and shale cores if the cores, which were pressurized with high pressure (≤ 20.7 MPa) CO2, were exposed to an atmospheric pressure, simulating the development of leakage pathways, (v) whether there are any fractions of CO2 stored in these hosts which are resistance to emission by simply exposing the cores to atmospheric pressure, and (vi) how compressive shockwaves applied to the coal and shale cores, which were pressurized with high pressure CO2, determine the fate of sequestered CO2 in these cores. Our results suggested that Illinois bituminous coal in its unperturbed state, i.e., when not pressurized with CO2, showed large variations in the mechanical properties. Modulus varied from 0.7 GPa to 3.4 GPa even though samples were extracted from a single large chunk of coal. We did not observe any glass transition for Illinois bituminous coal at - 100oC ≤ T ≤ 300oC, however, when the coal was pressurized with CO2 at ambient ≤ P ≤ 20.7 MPa, the viscosity of the coal decreased and inversely scaled with the CO2 pressure. The decrease in viscosity as a function of pressure could pose CO2 injection problems for coal as lower viscosity would allow the solid coal to flow to plug the fractures, fissures, and cleats. Our experiments also showed a very small fraction of CO2 was absorbed in coal; and when CO2 pressurized coals were exposed to atmospheric conditions, the loss of CO2 from coals was massive. Half of the sequestered gas from the coal cores was lost in less than 20 minutes. Our shockwave experiments on Illinois bituminous coal, New Albany shale (Illinois), Devonian shale (Ohio), and Utica shale (Ohio) presented clear evidence that the significant emission of the sequestered CO2 from these formations cannot be discounted during seismic activity, especially if caprock is compromised. It is argued that additional shockwave studies, both compressive and transverse, would be required for successfully mapping the risks associated with sequestering high pressure CO2 in coal and shale formations.« less
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Technical Report
Research Org:
Southern Illinois University
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Country of Publication:
United States