The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 19 projects to enhance the capability to simulate, track, and evaluate the potential risks of carbon dioxide storage in geologic formations. The projects’ total value is approximately $35.8 million over four years, with $27.6 million of DOE funding and $8.2 million of non-Federal cost sharing. The work will be managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.
Coal supplies nearly 50% of domestic electricity. In order for low-cost electricity from coal-fired power plants to remain available, the DOE said, economical methods for capturing and storing the greenhouse gas emissions from these plants must be developed. CO2 storage in deep geologic formations will likely be one of the most economical ways to achieve this goal, according to the DOE.
The projects selected will develop technologies and protocols that will significantly improve the ability to:
- Monitor the movement of CO2 into, through, and out of the targeted geologic storage area.
- Verify the location of CO2 that has been placed in geologic storage. Account for the entire quantity of CO2 that has been transported to geologic storage sites.
- Mathematically simulate the placement, storage, movement, and release of CO2 into, through, and from geologic formations.
- Assess the risks associated with the placement of the CO2 in geologic formations and the potential release of CO2 from these formations after it is stored.
Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting (MVA)
Projects in this topic area will investigate technologies to track the amount of CO2 stored at a geologic sequestration site, monitor the site for potential leaks or other deterioration of storage integrity over time, and verify that the CO2 is sustaining expected levels of permanence. Successful technologies will significantly increase the confidence that CO2 placed in geologic formations is being accurately tracked and remains permanently stored, thus protecting human health and the environment.
Columbia University, New York, N.Y. Researchers will develop systems for tagging CO2 with carbon-14 at atmospheric level (1 part per trillion) and measuring the carbon-14 CO2 levels. Such tagging will better quantify CO2 monitoring and make it possible to accurately inventory geologically stored carbon. The systems will be tested in the laboratory and at the CarbFix sequestration project in Iceland, where CO2 will be injected into a permeable basalt formation at 600 meters in depth. (DOE share: $1,692,269; recipient share: $471,801; duration: 36 months)
Fusion Petroleum Technologies, The Woodlands, Texas. Fusion Petroleum Technologies intends to develop seismic data software to complement existing software. The project team will determine whether fewer points in a surface seismic array, collected more frequently, along with new and existing software will allow them to develop a more accurate CO2 reservoir modeling package. (DOE share: $2,000,000; recipient share: $500,175; duration: 24 months).
Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont. A differential absorption light detection and ranging (lidar) instrument will be built to scan across a field test area to determine possible CO2 leakage to the atmosphere. The project team will assemble and test the instrument in the laboratory, then validate its operation and reliability at a Center for Zero Emissions Research and Technology site and at the future Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnerships large-scale CO2 storage test site. (DOE share: $405,119; recipient share: $110,127; duration: 36 months).
Planetary Emissions Management Inc. (PEM), Cambridge, Mass. PEM is commercializing a carbon-14 field-ready analyzer with a sensitivity of approximately 1 part per million of fossil fuel-produced CO2 in ambient air. The analyzer will be deployed at sites where CO2 leaks from natural geologic reservoirs and at a pilot CO2 injection site for testing and validation. Ideally, this will be followed by long-term deployment at large-scale operating CO2 storage projects. (DOE share: $2,003,703; recipient share: $429,300; duration: 48 months).
Schlumberger Carbon Services, Columbus, Ohio. Investigators will develop methods for risk quantification that can be directly applied to individual wells using borehole logging tools and measurements. Methods to quantify the probability of leakage will be developed for specific zones in the well, e.g., the casing, cement, cement-casing interface, cement-formation interface, and any existing defects. (DOE share: $1,995,228; recipient share: $477,699; duration: 27 months).
Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. This project will provide robust methodologies for using seismic data for quantitative mapping of the movement, presence, and permanence of CO2 relative to its intended storage location. Optimized rock-fluid models will incorporate the seismic signatures of (1) saturation scales and free versus dissolved gas in a CO2-water mixture, (2) pore pressure changes, and (3) CO2-induced chemical changes to the host rock. (DOE share: $1,177,957; recipient share: $320,900; duration: 48 months).
University of Miami Rosenstiel School, Miami, Fla. Researchers will use high-precision space geodesy to relate subtle displacements of the earth’s surface to pressure and volume changes at depth due to storage of CO2. Geochemical modeling will separate the effects of formation of CO2 reaction products from potential CO2 leakage or loss from the reservoir. Leakage, if any, will be detected using sensors to measure CO2 concentrations and mass spectrometers to measure isotopic ratios. (DOE share: $1,735,545; recipient share: $341,711; duration: 48 months).
University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology, Austin, Texas. In this project, investigators will use new technology to acquire three-dimensional multi-component seismic data across brine-filled strata that can be used for CO2 storage. The data will be processed and interpreted using rock physics principles to show that the combination of compressional and shear seismic attributes provides more rock, fluid, and geologic information to use in MVA tasks than does the use of compressional seismic data alone. (DOE share: $1,354,253; recipient share: $270,850; duration: 36 months).
University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo. The University of Wyoming will combine multiphase flow simulations with multi-component seismic waveform modeling and inversion to determine if seismic waveform inversion can accurately predict CO2 plume movements within storage reservoirs in post-injection scenarios involving rewetting and trapping of CO2 by bypassing and snap-off mechanisms. (DOE share: $1,046,917; recipient share: $470,646; duration: 36 months).
West Virginia University Research Corporation, Morgantown, W.V. High-sensitivity permanent downhole gauges will be placed in a formation where CO2 is being stored. The complex and highly convoluted real-time data transmitted by multiple gauges will be processed and modeled using state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and data-mining technology to identify the location and amount of CO2 leakage. (DOE share: $1,369,442; recipient share: $343,454; duration: 36 months).
Projects in this topic area will develop advanced numerical models that simulate the behavior of geologically stored CO2. The development of refined and coupled geochemical, mechanical, and flow models will yield better predictions of subsurface CO2 behavior, thereby assisting the design and implementation of CO2 geologic storage projects.
Advanced Resources International, Arlington, Va. Advanced Resources International researchers will develop and test three advanced geochemical and geomechanical modules to increase accuracy of simulating CO2 behavior in coals and shales, and they will couple these with flow simulation. Coal storage factors such as coal failure and permeability enhancement, matrix swelling and shrinking, and competition of water as adsorbed phase on coals will be addressed. (DOE share: $1,000,000; recipient share: $1,139,016; duration: 36 months).
Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio. In this project, investigators will develop a simulation framework for geologic CO2 storage along the U.S. Arches geologic province (Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio) by building a geologic model and completing reservoir simulations necessary for large-scale CO2 storage. (DOE share: $1,524,649; recipient share: $546,835; duration: 36 months).
Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colo. Researchers will develop a comprehensive reservoir simulator for modeling non-isothermal multiphase flow and transport of CO2 in saline reservoirs with heterogeneity, anisotropy, and fractures and faults, coupled with geochemical and geomechanical processes that would occur during CO2 geologic sequestration. (DOE share: $1,599,998; recipient share: $400,000; duration: 48 months).
Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, Mo. This project will couple a reservoir model and geomechanical model to simulate potential cap rock leakage for the CO2 capture and storage demonstration site at City Utilities of Springfield, Mo. Materials and methods for stopping potential leakage through the cap rock will be examined. The approach is designed to be applicable to other CO2 injection sites. (DOE share: $917,603; recipient share: $339,929; duration: 36 months).
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Soccoro, N.M. A basin-scale hybrid analytical-numerical multi-layer model of CO2 storage will be developed explicitly representing freshwater, brine, and CO2 phases using sharp-interface theory. The model will simulate an injection of 100 million metric tonnes of CO2 annually at dozens of power plant locations across Indiana and Illinois. (DOE share: $853,144; recipient share: $191,151; duration: 36 months).
Projects in this topic area will develop models and protocols to assess the programmatic and technical risks associated with storing CO2 in a geologic formation. The models and protocols will enable scientists, engineers, and storage-project administrators to develop approaches to minimize those risks.
GoldSim Technology Group, Issaquah, Wash. An integrated system-level risk analysis approach for geologic CO2 storage will be achieved by adapting and extending an existing highly regarded and widely used probabilistic simulation framework (GoldSim) that was originally developed for long-term safety analyses of nuclear waste disposal. (DOE share: $1,111,920; recipient share: $277,979; duration: 27 months).
Headwaters Clean Carbon Services, Lawrenceville, N.J. Researchers will develop a process-based risk assessment model to determine quantitatively the potential risks and impacts of CO2 storage, as well as the cost savings for risk mitigation. The model will be applied to the SACROC field site in Texas and two other known CO2 geologic storage sites. (DOE share: $1,811,790; recipient share: $441,635; duration: 48 months).
Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. Princeton investigators will develop a framework for examining carbon capture and storage investment decisions in light of uncertainty in CO2 leakage risks, potential subsurface liability, and the associated losses in carbon credits. (DOE share: $2,000,000; recipient share: $500,000; duration: 36 months).
University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology, Austin, Texas. The risks associated with CO2 storage in brine reservoirs will be quantified by (1) employing Bayesian inference techniques, (2) learning from the safety record of the CO2-EOR industry, (3) using expert panels drawn from industry and non-governmental organizations to evaluate programmatic risks, (4) examining the risks produced by CO2 dissolution and pressure fields associated with injection into brine reservoirs, and (5) assessing the consequences of potential CO2 leakage on water ecology and energy resources. (DOE share: $1,996,126; recipient share: $634,450; duration: 48 months).