From “invisible” pores to supercomputer cores: Reactive transport across the scales of geologic CO2 storage

Benjamin Tutolo

Jan 31, 2017 at | Carolyn Hoff Lynch Lecture Hall; Chemistry Complex

Special Seminar

Energy Cluster Search


Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage (CCS) is a key technology that can help to mitigate the detrimental consequences of global climate change.  CCS works by capturing CO2 at a point source before it is emitted to the atmosphere, injecting it into deep geologic formations for permanent storage, and, potentially, utilizing some portion of the injected CO2 for ancillary benefits, such as geothermal heat extraction. In this presentation, I will explore geochemical, hydrological, and environmental aspects of CCS using a combination of high temperature/pressure laboratory experiments, neutron- and x-ray-based characterization techniques, and high-performance reactive transport simulations.  Together, these methods will allow me to draw several important conclusions regarding the geology of CCS: 1) Reservoir rocks can contain abundant pores that are “invisible” at the scale of x-ray imaging techniques, yet play an outsized role in controlling the rock’s overall reactivity; 2) Geochemical reactions are unlikely to affect CO2 injectivity into sedimentary reservoirs over the timescales relevant to a CCS operation; and 3) High performance reactive transport simulations provide vital, unmatched insight into CCS operations over a broad range of spatiotemporal scales.  I will conclude by presenting an outline of the ways in which these experimental, characterization, and numerical techniques will generate potent collaborations and enable us to meet societal energy challenges throughout the 21st century.