Field Test and Evaluation of Engineered Biomineralization Technology for Sealing Existing Wells Email Page
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Performer: Montana State University
 A 1.5 m (5 foot) interval of the Gorgas well was isolated<br/>with packers as shown. Multiple 1.27 cm (0.5 inch) diameter<br/>perforation channels extend through the well casing and<br/>cement and into the Boyles sandstone formation for a distance of<br/>approximately one foot. Ureolytically active biofilm was developed in<br/>the formation pore space by injecting microbial inoculum followed by<br/>growth media as shown above. After a biofilm has been established,<br/>calcium precipitation solution was injected resulting in the precipitation<br/>of calcium carbonate minerals, which plugs the free pore space and form the biomineralization seal as shown.
A 1.5 m (5 foot) interval of the Gorgas well was isolated
with packers as shown. Multiple 1.27 cm (0.5 inch) diameter
perforation channels extend through the well casing and
cement and into the Boyles sandstone formation for a distance of
approximately one foot. Ureolytically active biofilm was developed in
the formation pore space by injecting microbial inoculum followed by
growth media as shown above. After a biofilm has been established,
calcium precipitation solution was injected resulting in the precipitation
of calcium carbonate minerals, which plugs the free pore space and form the biomineralization seal as shown.
Website: Montana State University
Award Number: FE0009599
Project Duration: 10/01/2012 – 09/30/2015
Total Award Value: $1,020,000
DOE Share: $800,000
Performer Share: $220,000
Technology Area: Geologic Storage
Key Technology: Mitigation
Location: Bozeman, Montana

Project Description

The goal of this project is to develop a biomineralization technology for sealing preferential flow pathways in the vicinity of injection wells. This was accomplished by characterizing an Alabama well test site, designing a protocol for and performing a field test, and evaluating the test results. The concept is based on the presence of the enzyme urease in some bacteria (i.e. Sporosarcina pasteurii) which hydrolyzes urea to form ammonium and increases pH. Urea is quite fluid and, when injected into a well, can penetrate deeply into small-aperture fractures in and around the wellbore. As a result of the bacterial activity, bicarbonate HCO3- is subsequently produced which in the presence of Ca+2 precipitates calcium carbonate (Calcite), thereby sealing the fractures into which the urea has penetrated.

Project Benefits

Improved methods for sealing potential leakage pathways into wellbores will allow project developers to more confidently ensure that the CO2 is permanently stored in geologic formations. This contributes to better storage technology thus reducing CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. Specifically, this project is developing and performing a field test to determine whether injection of urea and subsequent biomineralization reactions are capable of precipitating calcium carbonate (CaCO3) minerals and sealing a small aperture pathway.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager Andrea Dunn: andrea.dunn@netl.doe.gov
Technology Manager Traci Rodosta: traci.rodosta@netl.doe.gov
Principal Investigator Al Cunningham: al_c@erc.montana.edu

 

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