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Title: Final report of “A Detailed Study of the Physical Mechanisms Controlling CO2-Brine Capillary Trapping in the Subsurface” (University of Arizona, DE-SC0006696)

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) of carbon dioxide emissions generated by production or combustion of fossil fuels is a technologically viable means to reduce the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans. Using advantages of scale and location, CCS is particularly suitable for large point sources near ubiquitous deep saline aquifers, depleted gas reservoirs, or at production reservoirs for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). In the BES-funded research project, Oregon State University (OSU) carried out capillary trapping experiments with proxy fluids that mimic the properties of the scCO2/brine system under ambient temperatures and pressures, and successfully developed a unique and novel x-ray compatible, high-pressure, elevated temperature setup to study the scCO2/brine system under challenging reservoir conditions. Both methodologies were applied to a variety of porous media, including synthetic (glass bead) and geologic (Bentheimer sandstone) materials. The University of Arizona (UA) developed pore-scale lattice Boltzmann (LB) models which are able to handle the experimental conditions for proxy fluids, as well as the scCO2/brine system, that are capable of simulating permeability in volumes of tens of millions of fluid elements. We reached the following summary findings (main institute indicated): 1. (OSU/UA) To understand capillary trapping in a multiphase fluid-porous medium system, themore » system must be analyzed from a pore-scale force balance perspective; trapping can be enhanced by manipulating wetting and nonwetting phase fluid properties. 2. (OSU) Pore-scale fluid connectivity and topology has a clear and direct effect on nonwetting phase capillary trapping efficiency. 3. (OSU) Rock type and flow regime also have a pronounced effects on capillary trapping. 4. (OSU/UA) There is a predictable relationship between NWP connectivity and NWP saturation, which allows for development of injection strategies that optimize trapping. The commonly used Land model (Land, 1968) does not predict amount of trapped NWP accurately. 5. (UA) There are ambiguities regarding the segmentation of large-volume gray-scale CT data into pore-volumes suitable for pore-scale modeling. Simulated permeabilities vary by three orders of magnitude and do not resemble observed values very well. Small-volume synchrotron-based CT data (such as produced by OSU) does not suffer significantly from segmentation ambiguities. 6. (UA) A standard properly parameterized Shan-Chen model LB model is useful for simulating porous media with proxy fluids as well as the scCO2/brine system and produces results that are consistent with tomographic observations. 7. (UA) A LB model with fluid-interactions defined by a (modified) Peng-Robinson Equation of State is able to handle the scCO2/brine system with variable solid phase wettability. This model is numerically stable at temperatures between 0 and 250 °C and pressures between 3 and 50 MPa, and produces appropriate densities above the critical point of CO2 and exhibits three-phase separation below. Based on above findings OSU and UA have proposed continued experimentation and pore-scale modeling of the scCO2/brine system. The reported research has extensively covered capillary trapping using proxy fluids, but due to limited beam-time availability we were unable to apply our high-pressure CO2 setup to sufficient variation in fluid properties, and initial scCO2 connectivity. New data will also allow us to test, calibrate and apply our LB models to reservoir conditions beyond those that are currently feasible experimentally. Such experiments and simulations will also allow us to provide information how suitable proxy fluids are for the scCO2/brine system. We believe it would be worthwhile to pursue the following new research questions: 1. What are the fundamental differences in the physics underlying capillary trapping at ambient vs. supercritical conditions? 2. Do newly developed pore-scale trapping interactions and relationships translate to continuum scales? A motivation for these questions was elaborated in “Capillary Trapping of Super-Critical CO2: Linking Pore and Continuum Scales to Verify new Relationships” that was submitted to DOE-BES in 2015.« less
  1. Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
58 GEOSCIENCES; 97 MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTING; 20 FOSSIL-FUELED POWER PLANTS; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES Carbon sequestration, saline aquifers, capillary trapping, pore-scale modeling, equation of state, lattice Boltzmann models