Effect of thermodynamic phase changes on CO2 leakage

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Due to the concerns about the effect of greenhouse gases on the climate, Geologic CO2 storage is a very active area of research. One of the biggest risks associated with such projects is the possibility of leakage. Detrimental environmental consequences present a need to study potential leakage scenarios. Stored CO2 may leak if possible leakage pathways are available and favourable. Pressure and temperature decrease from the leakage source to the surface. Below the CO2 saturation pressure, liquid condensation of the CO2 occurs. At even lower temperatures and pressures, in the presence of water, hydrate formation occurs. CO2-hydrate forms when free water is available and the temperature is below 283 K and pressure is below 647 psi. During leakage, decreases in the temperature and pressure results in a CO2 phase change that affects the leakage flux. The purpose of this study is to estimate the leakage flux for different scenarios taking thermodynamic phase changes into account. An analytical model was built to predict steady state leakage flux taking the phase transitions into account. Several important limiting assumptions were required to perform these calculations. A numerical model with coupled mass and energy balances was developed and used to estimate the flux under less restrictive assumptions than the analytical model. Hydrate formation was modelled using the Van der Waals-Platteeuw model. Example analytical calculations indicate that for a uniform permeability pathway the CO2 leakage flux decreases by a factor of about two due to CO2 condensation and about three when hydrate forms compared with the isothermal leakage rate. These calculations illustrate the importance of the pressure and temperature of the leakage source (aquifer) and the amount of water in the pathway (fault) among other variables. Example numerical calculations indicate a cyclical nature of the leakage flux under certain conditions. Hydrate formation results in partial to complete blockage of the fault until melted.




Ramachandran, H., Pope, G. A., & Srinivasan, S. (2014). Effect of thermodynamic phase changes on CO2 leakage. In Energy Procedia (Vol. 63, pp. 3735–3745). Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2014.11.402

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