CO₂ geological storage: hydro-chemo-mechanically coupled phenomena and engineered injection
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Global energy consumption will increase in the next decades and it is expected to largely rely on fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels is intimately related to CO₂ emissions and the potential for global warming. Geological CO₂ storage aims to mitigate the global warming problem by sequestering CO₂ underground. Coupled hydro-chemo-mechanical phenomena determine the successful operation and long term stability of CO₂ geological storage. This research explores various coupled phenomena, identifies different zones in the storage reservoir, and investigates their implications in CO₂ geological storage. Spatial patterns in mineral dissolution and precipitation are examined based on a comprehensive mass balance formulation. CO₂-dissolved fluid flow is modeled using a novel technique that couples laminar flow, advective and diffusive mass transport of species, mineral dissolution, and consequent pore changes to study the reactive fluid transport at the scale of a single rock fracture. The methodology is extended to the scale of a porous medium using pore network simulations to study both CO₂ reservoirs and caprocks. The two-phase flow problem between immiscible CO₂ and the formation fluid (water or brine) is investigated experimentally. Plug tests on shale and cement specimens are used to investigate CO₂ breakthrough pressure. Sealing strategies are explored to plug existing cracks and increase the CO₂ breakthrough pressure. Finally, CO₂-water-surfactant mixtures are evaluated to reduce the CO₂-water interfacial tension in view of enhanced sweep efficiency. Results can be used to identify optimal CO₂ injection and remediation strategies to maximize the efficiency of CO₂ injection and to attain long-term storage.