Tracing CO2 from pipeline to subsurface storage site

  • Supervisors: Prof. Stuart Haszeldine, Dr. Stuart Gilfillan, Dr. Chris McDermott, Dr. Polly Arnold, (University of Edinburgh)
  • Sponsor Company: ScottishPower.
  • PhD Student: Rachel Kilgallon 
  • This student has graduated and the project is complete.

A primary requirement for the success of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology is the proven ability to safely transport, inject and store CO2 in the subsurface on a long-term basis. A major issue regarding acceptance of both CO2 transport networks and subsurface storage sites is the risk of failure of CO2 containment and the subsequent environmental impact. A key aspect to reducing these risks is the development of monitoring strategies that permit ongoing assessment of the containment integrity of both pipelines and storage reservoirs.

This PhD programme has two specific aims:
1. Identify and quantify how ‘foul smelling’ organic compounds could be added to transported CO2 to act as early indicators of CO2 leakage from pipelines.
2. Investigate how noble gases could be used as effective early warning tracers of CO2 migration in engineered CO2 storage sites.

Methods: This project will be primarily experimental in nature and sample analysis will be undertaken using existing experimental equipment within the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage Centre. Experiments on CO2 odorants will be undertaken in the recently refurbished, state of the art, Joseph Black CO2 chemistry laboratory within the School of Chemistry.

Core flow and transport experiments using CO2 and noble gases will be undertaken on rocks representative of storage sites, including porous sandstones and less porous mudrocks. At a larger scale, several highly fractured porous samples are available for the investigation of flow and transport within fracture networks on noble gas and CO2 flow rates. Modelling of the results of these experiments will be carried out using GeoSys/RockFlow, an existing environmental software code in order to investigate the evolution of similar preferential flow paths within true scale engineered CO2 storage sites.