CCS and Power Systems

Carbon Storage - Monitoring, Verification, Accounting, and Assessment


Combining Space Geodesy, Seismology, and Geochemistry for Monitoring, Verification and Accounting of CO2 in Sequestration Sites


Performer: University of Miami

Project No: FE0001580


Program Background and Project Benefits

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.

It will be necessary to improve existing monitoring technologies, develop novel systems, and protocols to satisfy regulations to track the fate of subsurface CO2 and quantify any emissions from reservoirs. The Carbon Storage Program is sponsoring the development of technologies and protocols by 2020 that are broadly applicable in different geologic storage classes and have sufficient accuracy to account for greater than 99 percent of all injected CO2. If necessary, the tools will support project developers to help quantify emissions from carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) projects in the unlikely event that CO2 migrates out of the injection zone. Finally, coupled with our increased understanding of these systems and reservoir models, MVA tools will help in the development of one of DOE’s goals to quantify storage capacity within ± 30 percent accuracy.

Assessment of the efficiency, safety, and long-term fate of CO2 injected into various types of geologic storage reservoirs remains a challenge. If successfully proven, the integrated methodology for CO2 monitoring in a storage reservoir described above can be implemented at relatively low cost at most proposed carbon storage sites. It will require only the installation of a sparse network of GPS, seismic, and geochemical stations, and low-cost commercial satellite imagery.

Primary Project Goal

The primary objective of the DOE’s Carbon Storage Program is to develop technologies to safely and permanently store CO2 and reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions without adversely affecting energy use or hindering economic growth. The Programmatic goals of Carbon Storage research are: (1) estimating CO2 storage capacity in geologic formations; (2) demonstrating that 99 percent of injected CO2 remains in the injection zone(s); (3) improving efficiency of storage operations; and (4) developing Best Practices Manuals (BPMs).

The primary objective of this project is to develop and test a new, integrated approach for MVA of CO2 that is stored in deep geologic formations. This objective will help to improve and demonstrate the need for efficient storage operations and further demonstrate CO2 storage permanence in the subsurface. The essence of this approach is to integrate reconnaissance-scale space techniques with ground-monitoring methods of seismic and geochemical techniques, including:

  • High-precision space geodesy to measure subtle surface displacements associated with pressure/volume changes at depth due to injection of CO2 in a storage reservoir (Figure 1).

  • Analytical and numerical (finite element) modeling to relate deformation at the surface to pressure/volume changes at depth.

  • New, state-of-the-art algorithms using passive seismic monitoring and use of compressional velocity, shear-wave velocity, and attenuation from recorded seismic data, to monitor fluid motions, porosity changes, and other conditions in the reservoir and overburden.

  • Geochemical reservoir modeling to assess the fate of injected CO2.

  • Geochemical surface monitoring to measure CO2 seepages should they occur, using a combination of sensors to measure concentration and isotopic ratios.


Project Details