CCS and Power Systems

Carbon Storage - Geologic Storage Technologies and Simulation and Risk Assessment

Maximization of Permanent Trapping of CO2 and Co-Contaminants in the Highest-Porosity Formations of

Performer: University of Wyoming

Project No: FE0004832

Program Background and Project Benefits

The overall goal of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carbon Storage Program is to develop and advance technologies that will significantly improve the effectiveness of geologic carbon storage, reduce the cost of implementation, and prepare for widespread commercial deployment between 2020 and 2030. Research conducted to develop these technologies will ensure safe and permanent storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without adversely affecting energy use or hindering economic growth.

Geologic carbon storage involves the injection of CO2 into underground formations that have the ability to securely contain the CO2 permanently. Technologies being developed for geologic carbon storage are focused on five storage types: oil and gas reservoirs, saline formations, unmineable coal seams, basalts, and organic-rich shales. Technologies being developed will work towards meeting carbon storage programmatic goals of (1) estimating CO2 storage capacity +/- 30 percent in geologic formations; (2) ensuring 99 percent storage permanence; (3) improving efficiency of storage operations; and (4) developing Best Practices Manuals. These technologies will lead to future CO2 management for coal-based electric power generating facilities and other industrial CO2 emitters by enabling the storage and utilization of CO2 in all storage types.

The DOE Carbon Storage Program encompasses five Technology Areas: (1) Geologic Storage and Simulation and Risk Assessment (GSRA), (2) Monitoring, Verification, Accounting (MVA) and Assessment, (3) CO2 Use and Re-Use, (4) Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSP), and (5) Focus Area for Sequestration Science. The first three Technology Areas comprise the Core Research and Development (R&D) that includes studies ranging from applied laboratory to pilot-scale research focused on developing new technologies and systems for GHG mitigation through carbon storage. This project is part of the Core R&D GSRA Technology Area and works to develop technologies and simulation tools to ensure secure geologic storage of CO2. It is critical that these technologies are available to aid in characterizing geologic formations before CO2-injection takes place in order to predict the CO2 storage resource and develop CO2 injection techniques that achieve optimal use of the pore space in the reservoir and avoid fracturing the  confining zone (caprock). The program’s R&D strategy includes adapting and applying existing technologies that can be utilized in the next five years, while concurrently developing innovative and advanced technologies that will be deployed in the decade beyond. This study is designing a software model that will help determine and predict how injected CO2 migrates and is stored and trapped in the saline formations found in southwestern Wyoming.

This research will increase the understanding of the effects of injecting mixed scCO2 into deep saline aquifers. This contributes to the Carbon Storage Programmatic goals by estimating CO2 storage capacity +/- 30 percent in geologic formations and ensuring 99 percent storage permanence; Mixed scCO2 capture and storage is more efficient than other storage methods because it does not require additional treatment to remove cocontaminants. This reduces the energy needed for treatment and provides an overall cost savings. Additionally, the RSU is located in the region where coal-fired power plants produce 36 percent of the CO2 emissions in Wyoming. The ability to utilize this formation for CO2 storage will provide a cost-effective local mechanism for preventing a significant amount of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.


The goal of this project is to develop a dynamic model that will aid in understanding mixed scCO2 storage in the RSU. This improved understanding will help maximize CO2 storage. This goal will be accomplished by achieving the following objectives:

  • Laboratory measurement of relative permeabilities under conditions similar to those within the storage formation.

  • Measurement of the delayed effects that mixed scCO2 injection will have on relative permeability within the storage formation (hysteresis of permeability within the formation).

  • Characterization of the ability of mixed scCO2 to spread over the solid surface areas within the saline formation (the wettability of the formation).

  • Development of a pore-scale model for rock samples from the RSU. The model will be validated against the permeability/wettability data obtained to provide improvements to the existing model.

  • Conducting an optimization analysis of long term permanent trapping of mixed scCO2 through high-resolution numerical experiments taking into account storage formation heterogeneity, saturation history, dissolution, capillary trapping, geomechanical deformation due to injection of massive quantities of mixed scCO2, well location, and injection pattern.

Project Details