DOE Selects 15 Projects Aimed at Secure CO2 Underground Storage

The US Department of Energy has selected 15 projects to develop technologies aimed at safely and economically storing carbon dioxide in geologic formations. Funded with $21.3 million over three years, the selections are to complement existing DOE initiatives to help develop the technology and infrastructure to implement large-scale CO2 storage in different geologic formations across the US.

The 15 selected projects will complement ongoing efforts by developing and testing technologies that address critical challenges for geologic storage including injectivity of CO2 into the reservoir, storage capacity, plume migration, and containment by caprock and other trapping mechanisms.

Geologic storage is currently focused on five types of formations:(1) depleted oil and gas reservoirs, (2) deep saline formations, (3) unmineable coal seams, (4) oil- and gas-rich organic shales, and (5) basalts. Carbon storage in depleted oil and gas reservoirs can also increase oil or gas production, while storage of CO2 in deep saline formations holds the promise of enormous worldwide capacity, with estimates of thousands of gigatonnes of storage.

The selected projects are described below:

Advanced Resources International, Inc. (Arlington, Va.) In this project investigators will assess factors influencing effective CO2 storage capacity and injectivity in selected Eastern gas shales. Project objectives include analyzing data on reservoir properties; developing a better understanding of the characteristics of shales that impact sealing integrity, storage capacity and CO2 injectivity; verifying this understanding through small-scale CO2 injection tests; characterizing the potential constraints to economic CO2 storage in gas shales; assessing approaches for development of cost-effective CO2 storage; and developing a basin-level characterization of the CO2 storage capacity and injectivity of selected Eastern shales. (DOE share: $1,345,541; Recipient share: $653,500; duration: 24 months)

Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford, Calif.) Researchers will investigate the feasibility of geologic CO2 sequestration in depleted shale gas reservoirs. Four main focus areas will be studied: physical and chemical aspects of CO2/shale interactions at pore scale; transport processes of critical-state CO2 in hydrofracs, natural fractures, and pores; chemical interactions with groundwater; and trap and seal mechanisms of CO2 in shale gas reservoirs. (DOE share: $1,147,612; Recipient share: $229,522; Duration: 36 months)

Clemson University (Clemson, S.C.) Clemson University researchers will evaluate the feasibility of using wellbore deformations to assess reservoir, caprock, and wellbore conditions. Results will improve the characterization of reservoir and caprock compressibility and pressure-dependent permeability, as well as the distribution of fractures and other heterogeneities in a wide range of reservoir types. It will also improve wellbore characterization, including the bonds between casing, cement and formation. (DOE share: $449,209; Recipient share: $112,292; Duration: 36 months)

Colorado School of Mines (Golden, Colo.) The objective of this project is to improve understanding of CO2-trapping mechanisms affected by formation heterogeneity. The research will focus on capillary and dissolution trapping. Results will lead to a more realistic prediction of storage capacity and leakage risk. (DOE share: $510,752; Recipient share: $139,525; Duration: 36 months)

Fusion Petroleum Technologies, Inc. (The Woodlands, Texas) This study will evaluate the applicability of the experimental design/response surface method, sensitivity analysis, and optimization method on the many factors that affect the successful characterization, engineering design and operation of a saline formation site. The effects of complex structures such as faults and fractures will be completed. An evaluation of the use of multilateral horizontal wells compared to the use of vertical or single lateral wells will also be examined. (DOE share: $780,185; Recipient share: $195,046; Duration: 18 months)

Montana State University (Bozeman, Mont.) This project will develop a biomineralization-based technology for sealing preferential flow pathways in the vicinity of injection wells. Montana State researchers plan to test a mesoscale high-pressure rock test system, develop biomineralization seal experimental protocol, and create biomineralization seals in different rock types and field conditions. (DOE share: $1,599,385; Recipient share: $399,989; Duration: 36 months)

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Socorro, N.M.) Researchers will assess caprock/reservoir interfaces of proposed CO2 injection sites. Investigations will focus on depositional, structural, and diagenetic characteristics. Specific topics to be addressed include how physical properties of sand/mudstone interfaces influence CO2 storage and transport, how geochemical perturbations induced by CO2 emplacement influence leakage across the interface, how interface properties affect brine migration into caprock, and how fractures at the interface respond to injection-induced fluid pressure. (DOE share: $399,479; Recipient share: $100,043; Duration: 36 months)

Paulsson, Inc. (Brea, Calif.) The objective of this study is to develop a reservoir-assessment tool based on novel and robust borehole seismic technology that can generate ultra high resolution P and S wave images for detailed characterization and precise monitoring of CO2 storage sites. Paulsson investigators will build and test a prototype of a downhole seismic system capable of deploying a thousand 3C downhole receivers using fiber optic geophone technology deployed on drill pipe. The system will be tested at a CO2 storage site. (DOE share: $1,995,682; Recipient share: $636,500; Duration: 24 months)

The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York (New York, N.Y.) Columbia University researchers will test and evaluate carbon-14 as a reactive tracer to assess CO2 transport in a basaltic storage reservoir. Evaluation of mineral trapping through carbonation will also be completed. Studies will be conducted at the CarbFix CO2 pilot injection site in Iceland. (DOE share: $1,015,180; Recipient share: $346,905; Duration: 36 months)

The Trustees of Indiana University (Bloomington, Ind.) Researchers will develop a reservoir-scale multi-phase reactive flow model for CO2 plume migration and dynamic evolution of trapping mechanisms at the Sleipner Project in the North Sea. The model will be calibrated through historical matching using information of the progressive CO2 plume migration delineated by 4D seismic data, then extrapolated to a regional-scale model to predict the CO2 fate 10,000 years post-injection. (DOE share: $401,042; Recipient share: $119,085; Duration: 36 months)

University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc. (Lawrence, Kan.) Investigators will evaluate the effectiveness of the volume curvature seismic tool to assess reservoirs and features such as sags, flexures, and fractures. Analyses will be completed for the Arbuckle saline carbonate formation in Kansas, and confirmed by a well. Facies models and stratigraphic architecture will be used for simulations designed to estimate storage capacity, optimum injection rate, plume migration, containment, and leakage risk. (DOE share: $1,598,536; Recipient share: $401,463; Duration: 36 months)

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas) Researchers will develop a prototype of a new computational approach to assess plume migration in a reservoir. Based on a Bayesian approach for geological model-selection, it will use injection data and other information and can be integrated with existing flow simulators. This will enable operators and regulators to make more informed decisions about whether to acquire additional data, to alter injection strategy, or take other action. (DOE share: $1,002,633; Recipient share: $251,247; Duration: 36 months)

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas) - In this project, researchers will complete simulations and experiments to establish proof-of-feasibility of a novel concept for assessing capillary trapping in reservoirs. The outcome of this project will be a geologically grounded method for quantifying the extent of such trapping. (DOE share: $425,345; Recipient share: $109,095; Duration: 24 months)

University of Wyoming (Laramie, Wyo.) - Researchers will study the storage of supercritical CO2 and co-contaminants in deep saline formations of Wyoming. The investigation will combine state-of-the-art experimental studies, numerical pore- and reservoir-scale modeling, and high-performance computing to investigate various large-scale storage schemes with the goal of maximizing the permanent trapping of supercritical CO2 and co-contaminants in reservoirs. (DOE share: $1,508,198; Recipient share: $1,374,819; Duration: 36 months)

Yale University (New Haven, Conn.) Yale University will study basic questions about the chemical and mechanical processes that must occur in basalt reservoirs for carbonation to be practical on a large scale. Experiments will address the question of whether the in situ reaction can sustain itself by generating cracks, or will shut itself down by constricting the pore space. The study is designed to provide a basis for scaling up to future field tests of mineral carbonation in basaltic reservoirs. (DOE share: $1,597,187; Recipient share: $402,715; Duration: 36 months)

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