Fluid Flow, Pressure, and Water Management
  Diagram of a coreflood test system that allows for fluid flow through rock samples to be analyzed under simulated formation pressures and temperatures in order to determine rock properties.
(Colorado School of Mines; DE-FE0023305)
(click to enlarge)

Fluid flow, pressure, and water manage­ment comprise a key technology area that provides the knowledge and tools needed to design effective injection operations, optimize injection rates, make efficient use of reservoir storage volume, and ensure the sealing capability of caprock formations.


Fluid flow, fluid pressure, and water management in the injection reservoir, along with geologic properties of caprocks, are factors that must be understood in order to optimize injection opera­tions, rates, and use of reservoir storage space.

The flow of CO2 in the reservoir and attendant changes in temperature and pressure are affected by many factors, such as sedimentary structure and hydrologic properties of the reservoir, and the presence of naturally occurring fractures and faults. A number of two- and three-dimensional computer simulators are used today for predicting CO2 flow and temperature and pressure changes based on intrinsic reservoir properties.

Fundamentals of CO2 capillary trapping mechanisms.
(Colorado School of Mines, DE-FE0004630)
(click to enlarge)

Research Agenda and Challenges

Additional effort is needed to develop coupled, basin-scale simulators that model effects of factors such as fractures and that can be used for a variety of storage formations. In addition, the displacement of water by CO2 must be understood and appropriate water management techniques employed.

Specific research pathways in fluid flow, pressure, and water management include:

  • By 2020: Reservoir modeling efforts that assess basin-scale impacts of CO2 injection on fluid flow and pressure conditions in the reservoir are needed, as well as research designed to help improve injection operations, injectivity, and sweep efficiency in reservoir types targeted in first-mover projects. The results will improve understanding of the impact of CO2 injection on open and closed systems in a variety of depositional environments and will be used in assessing and mitigating risks at both project and basin scale.
  • By 2030: Develop new, fit-for-purpose numerical fluid flow models that reduce cost and uncertainty of simulations and models and methods to manage extracted water and brine. Research includes efforts to improve regional hydrologic models and efforts to integrate management of water, pressure, and plume migration.
GSRA Fluid Flow, Pressure, and Water Management Research Timeline
(click to enlarge)

NETL-Supported Fluid Flow, Pressure, and Water Management Research

NETL supports projects that are addressing research challenges within the Fluid Flow, Pressure, and Water Management key technology area. Examples of projects supporting this key technology span a range of topics including (1) development of improved system models that can be used to determine the suitability of specific geologic sites for long-term storage of CO2; (2) addressing knowledge gaps in the design and implementation of commercial-scale CO2 storage projects to ensure long-term containment; (3) development of new modeling capabilities for simulation of CO2 and brine migration in fractured reservoirs; (4) investigation of flow interactions between fractures and formation minerals to better model and predict CO2 distribution within a storage reservoir; and (5) improvement in understanding of fractured basalt reservoirs and the impact basalt structure and chemistry has on flow and mineral trapping of injected CO2.

New fractures due to volume expansion brought about by carbonation
Fracture blocking by carbonation
Uniform carbonate layer along fracture surface
These schematics show three possible carbonation scenarios within fractures in basalts. Carbonation is the result of chemical precipitation from interactions between the minerals in the basalt and the injected carbon dioxide. Each scenario will affect carbonation by either impeding or improving storage. (Washington University; DE-FE0023382)

The GSRA webpage offers links to detailed information on projects performing research in this area.