This four-year project — performed by the Colorado School of Mines in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) — is developing a comprehensive reservoir simulator for modeling non-isothermal multiphase flow and transport of CO2 in saline aquifers under varying temperature and pressure conditions. The project focuses on saline aquifers because these formations have the largest potential capacity for CO2 storage. The simulator models the complex geology of these formations, including heterogeneity, anisotropy, fractures, and faults. The simulator also models geochemical and geomechanical processes that would occur during geologic storage of CO2 . It uses parallel computation methods to allow rapid and efficient modeling assessment of CO2 injection strategies and long-term prediction of geologic storage system behavior and safety. The experimental plan will expand upon past experience and approaches with multiphase flow experiments at various scales to assess CO2 geologic storage. Small-scale test experiments will be used to identify the fundamental processes in homogeneous systems and test the ability of the macroscopic scale models to capture the capillary and dissolution trapping processes in the presence of pore-scale heterogeneities. The model simulations will support the evaluation of geologic storage mechanisms as a viable technique for reducing atmospheric CO2 emissions.
Through its core research and development program administered by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) emphasizes monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA), as well as computer simulation and risk assessment, of possible carbon dioxide (CO2 ) leakage at CO2 geologic storage sites. MVA efforts focus on the development and deployment of technologies that can provide an accurate accounting of stored CO2 , with a high level of confidence that the CO2 will remain stored underground permanently. Effective application of these MVA technologies will ensure the safety of geologic storage projects with respect to both human health and the environment, and can provide the basis for establishing carbon credit trading markets for geologically storing CO2 . Computer simulation can be used to estimate CO2 plume and pressure movement within the storage formation as well as aid in determining safe operational parameters; results from computer simulations can be used to refine and update a given site’s MVA plan. Risk assessment research focuses on identifying and quantifying potential risks to humans and the environment associated with geologic storage of CO2, and helping to ensure that these risks remain low.
As carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) capacity increases and projects become commercial beyond 2020, the importance of accurate geologic models and robust risk assessment protocols will become increasingly important to project developers, regulators, and other stakeholders. NETL’s Carbon Storage Program aims to continue improvements to the models and risk assessment protocols. Specific goals within the Simulation and Risk Assessment Focus Area that will enable the Carbon Storage Program to meet current programmatic goals are to (1) validate and improve existing simulation codes which will enhance the prediction and accuracy of CO2 movement in deep geologic formations to within ± 30 percent accuracy, (2) validate risk assessment process models using results from large-scale storage projects to develop risk assessment profiles for specific projects, and (3) develop basin-scale models to support the management of pressure, CO2 plume, and saline plume impacts from multiple injections for long-term stewardship in major basins of the United States.
Click to view Presentations, Papers, and Publications