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Storage

Secure Carbon Storage

  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an important element in Canada’s emissions reduction strategy. Of paramount importance in the development of CCS sites is the ability to quantitatively track the injected CO2 plume in the storage formation and to detect and remediate any leaks. The verification of storage is critical to public acceptance of CCS and will become a regulatory requirement for commercial projects.

    Comprehensive monitoring protocols need to be established, using a wide range of technologies. CMC’s researchers are working to develop monitoring, measurement, and verification technologies and protocols that will allow for the stable, secure storage of carbon dioxide.

    Dr. Don LawtonTheme C Lead: Dr. Don Lawton
    Professor and Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists Chair
    University of Calgary

    Dr. Don Lawton is Director of the Fold-Fault Research Project (FRP) which involves integrated geophysical and geological research into the 3-D geometry and evolution of structures of economic and academic interest in fold and thrust belts. He is also Associate Director of the Consortium for Research in Elastic Wave Exploration Seismology (CREWES).

    His research interests include acquisition, processing and interpretation of multi-component and conventional seismic data and near surface geophysical studies for environmental applications and for reflection static corrections. He has a PhD and B.Sc. (Hon.) from the Department of Geoscience at Auckland University.

  • C01 Storage geochemistry

    Principal Investigators:

    Bernhard Mayer, UCalgary; Benjamin Rostron, UAlberta; Barbara Sherwood Lollar, UToronto

    Summary:

    Of paramount importance for the geological storage of CO2 is the ability to track the injected CO2 plume in the storage formation and to detect and remediate any leaks through the caprock into overlying formations, shallow aquifers or release into the atmosphere. As a complimentary tool to geophysical techniques, geochemical and isotopic techniques enable the tracing of the movement of injected CO2 where a sufficient number of observation wells are available to obtain fluid and gas samples prior to CO2 injection (baseline) and regularly after CO2 injection commences (monitoring). The overall objective of this project is to develop and use quantitative hydrogeological and geochemical techniques to trace the movement and the fate of injected CO2 in the storage reservoirs.

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    C02 Adapting Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Assessment methods to site evaluation for carbon capture and storage

    Principal Investigators:

    David Eaton, UCalgary; Jeffrey Gu, UAlberta

    Summary:

    Public acceptance of geological storage of CO2 is critical for the success of CCS initiatives and it will depend on numerous factors. One area of public concern is potential loss of caprock integrity resulting from earthquake or injection induced ground motions, even in areas of relatively low seismic hazard. Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Assessment (PSHA) is well established as a methodology to determine earthquake risks. However, they are not tailored for CCS applications since they are primarily designed for the built environment at surface. In collaboration with federal and provincial agencies, this project will develop earthquake risk assessment tools that are tailored for CCS. These tools will account for depth of burial, subsurface conditions and hazard levels appropriate to a multi-century design lifetime of geological storage facilities.

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    C04 Storage geophysics and monitoring

    Principal Investigators:

    Don Lawton, UCalgary; Gary Margrave, UCalgary; Mauricio Sacchi, UAlberta

    Summary:

    Our goal is to monitor injection of CO2, determine if it is possible to track the plume in the reservoir, and to monitor possible leaks from the storage reservoir. This requires high fidelity time-lapse seismic data since the change in seismic character due to substitution of pore fluids from brine with supercritical CO2 is subtle. Improvements in imaging algorithms are required to better resolve these subtle changes. Innovative surveys are needed with 3D multi-component surface seismic surveys recorded simultaneously with a multi-offset and multi-azimuth vertical seismic profiles recorded in an observation well. Our research team is becoming involved in seismic monitoring for several gigaton scale CCS projects in Alberta, including CO2 storage in deep saline aquifers as well as enhanced oil recovery from partially depleted reservoirs.

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    C05 Seismic behaviour of CO2 saturated sandstones: laboratory measurements and modeling

    Principal Investigators:

    Doug Schmitt, UAlberta and Mauricio Sacchi, UAlberta

    Summary:

    Geophysical monitoring of CO2 injection in the subsurface cannot be successful without detailed knowledge of how the physical properties of the reservoir and caprocks behave as the conditions of fluid saturation, pore pressure, stress, and temperature vary during CO2 injection and migration. As such, this research seeks to carry out an extensive series of laboratory measurements of the seismic wave speeds and attenuations on both porous calibration samples and on actual rock materials related to the parallel field studies undertaken by other CMC projects. The materials will undergo a full petrophysical characterization using standard methods but supplemented with new micron scale X-ray CT scanning to better understand the microscopic pore structures.

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    C06 Carbon capture for CCS by solid oxide fuel cells

    Principal Investigators:

    Viola Birss, UCalgary; Olivera Kesler, UToronto

    Summary:

    New technologies are needed for electric power generation systems that are capable of higher efficiency and lower cost CO2 capture than currently achievable with combustion-based power generation. These new technologies must provide a clean CO2 stream that is suitable for injection and storage into underground geological reservoirs or into innovative new CO2 storage systems. Of these, the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is a power generation system that can perform both of these roles at very high efficiency and at multiple scales, from kilowatt to megawatt electrical output. They are potentially important for smaller-scale dispersal applications. Although SOFCs still require enhanced durability, they do not need additional costly technologies in order to exhaust nitrogen-free CO2/high grade steam. However, when used strictly for combined heat and power generation, 10 to 25% unspent fuel and lesser volumes of carbon monoxide may be present in the exhaust. The proposed research of the Birss and Kesler groups will focus on lowering the unspent fuel output levels by designing and performing lab-scale tests of modified SOFC components.

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    C07 Carbon mineralization in mine waste

    Principal Investigators:

    Gregory Dipple, UBC; Ulrich Mayer, UBC; Gordon Southam, UWO; Michael Hitch, UBC

    Summary:

    Mine waste has an inherent but untapped capacity to absorb and trap CO2. In hard rock mine waste rocks and tailings that are rich in magnesium silicate minerals, carbon fixation capacity can be much larger than total greenhouse gas production from mine operations. Some large mines could therefore operate as net carbon sinks. Furthermore, the capacity to store CO2 in intact magnesium silicate rocks through injection into the such rocks is potentially large and involves similar reaction pathways. This research will evaluate processes for capturing CO2 in mine waste and fixing the carbon with mineral precipitates for safe long-term storage. The project will examine the chemical reactions by which CO2 is trapped and fixed in mineral form through controlled laboratory experiments. The role of biologically mediated reactions will also be examined experimentally.

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    C206 Integrated gravimetric and geodetic monitoring of geological CO2 storage

    Principal Investigators:

    Jeong Woo Kim, UCalgary; Michael Sideris, UCalgary; Spiros Pagiatakis, York U; James Merriam, USaskatchewan; Joseph Henton, National Resources Canada; Patrick Wu, UCalgary; Wooil Moon, UManitoba; Michael Collins, UCalgary; Bernhard Mayer, UCalgary

    Summary:

    Investigators will use a new technology to measure centimetre-scale deformations in Earth’s surface related to fluid injection into subsurface reservoirs to monitor CO2 injection processes. Researchers will also use a new type of gravity meter to monitor small, local changes in Earth’s gravity field relating to changes in fluid distributions in CO2 injection reservoirs. This method, along with specialized seismic, geochemical and other monitoring techniques, will allow the researchers to keep a detailed eye in the ground at CO2 storage sites.

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    C208 Innovative approaches to microseismic monitoring of underground CO2 injection: Seismic interferometry and ultralow frequency deformation events

    Principal Investigators:

    Mirko Van der Baan, UAlberta; David Eaton, UCalgary; Ted Urbancic, Engineering Seismology Group

    Summary:

    In a field-based study, researchers will monitor the subsurface at CO2 injection sites for normally undetectable “micro-earthquakes” to help assess movement of the injected CO2 into other formations. Using the world’s first university-based borehole microseismic system, the team will test to see if their methods can effectively monitor subtle changes to the rockmass produced by the injected CO2 and use the results to better assess CO2 movement in CO2 storage reservoirs.

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    C223 Storage geomechanics and reservoir modeling

    Principal Investigators:

    Christopher Hawkes, USaskatchewan; Ron Wong, UCalgary; Yuri Leonenko, UWaterloo; Antonin Settari, UCalgary

    Summary:

    Scientists are investigating the most secure and effective means of CO2 injection and storage. The team is already studying the mechanical and fluid-transport properties of caprocks and CO2 reservoir rocks by testing rock samples in the lab. The next step is to develop models to predict how injected CO2 might flow through the rocks, and assess if it will damage rock formations at particular storage sites. A field study will allow the researchers to work up to a full-scale study in which 10-30 megatonnes of CO2 will be injected underground.

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    C233 Distributed all-optical CO2 sensing for field-scale subsurface carbon management

    Principal Investigators:

    Peter Wild, UVictoria; David Risk, St. Francis Xavier U; David Sinton, UToronto; Martin Jun, UVictoria; Don Lawton, UCalgary

    Summary:

    Harsh environmental conditions combined with the deep location and large size of CO2 storage sites make it a challenge to monitor, measure and verify what becomes of injected CO2 over the long term. In a lab-to-field project, researchers will pioneer a fibre-optic system specifically to measure CO2 concentrations and detect possible leaks at storage sites. The innovative project will make use of patented fibre-optic pressure-sensing technology and patented techniques developed at St. Francis-Xavier University to measure CO2 fluxes.

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    C247 Secure Storage of Impure CO2 in the Form of Solid Hydrate in Depleted Gas Pools in Northern Alberta

    Principal Investigators:

    Hassan Hassanzadeh, UCalgary; Mehran Pooladi-Darvish, UCalgary; Peter Englezos, UBC; Shahin Dashtgard, Simon Fraser U

    Summary:

    This work focuses on developing a novel method to store CO2 as an icy semi-solid “gas hydrate” in spent gas pools. The experimental method could make it possible to securely store CO2 emissions associated with oil sands in northeast Alberta without the need for long distance transfer. The team not only plans to demonstrate CO2-hydrate formation, but also to assess the potential storage capacity of depleted gas reservoirs and design a pilot study for an actual site.

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    C319 Carbonate production by sequestration of industrial CO2: revalorization of mine and industrial waste

    Principal Investigators:

    Guy Mercier, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS);  Jean-Francois Blais, INRS; Sandra Kentish, U of Melbourne; Ian Gates, U of Calgary

    Industry Participants:

    Holcim Canada & SIGMA DEVTECH

    Summary:

    In nature, CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere through a process called carbon mineralization whereby CO2 reacts with minerals to form carbonate rock. The goal of this project, which is being undertaken with industrial partners Holcim Canada and SIGMA DEVTECH, is to use this type of reaction and accelerate it to treat industrial CO2 emissions.

    The group will be reacting various magnesium and calcium rocks available in mine tailings with the gaseous emission (containing CO2) of a Holcim cement plant with the participation of the cement plant staff in a chemical reactor (a plant in itself). Doing so, silicate of magnesium or calcium, depending on the rocks, used will be transformed to carbonate of magnesium or calcium. Researchers will focus on developing an economically attractive process as well as one that is easily integrated into industrial applications. Cost reductions are being accomplished by decreasing the number of steps, working in low temperature/pressure conditions, and by finding commercial outlets for the carbonated byproducts. The aim is to implement the process in a variety of industries such as steel, coal power plants and cement plants in order to achieve a meaningful decrease of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.

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    C390 Accelerating carbon mineralization in mine wastes

    Principal Investigators:

    Greg Dipple, University of British Columbia (UBC);  Michael Hitch, UBC; Ulrich Mayer, UBC; Gordon Southam, U of Western Ontario; Siobhan Wilson, Monash University (Australia); John Wen, U of Waterloo; Murray Thomson, U of Toronto

    Summary:

    The long-term goal of the carbon mineralization project is to develop methods for accelerating carbon sequestration within mine waste and, through partnership with industry, establish a demonstration project for carbon mineralization. Many mines produce waste capable of storing CO2 but passive fixation rates from the atmosphere are generally slow (50,000 tonnes CO2 per year or less per mine site). By increasing the level of CO2 in gas streams, the research team can accelerate mineralization in hard rock mine waste and tailings. The team projects that direct capture at remote mine sites could lead to carbon fixation rates of ~0.25 million tonnes CO2 per year at a large mine, while coupling industrial CO2 streams proximal to more accessible mine sites could lead to carbon fixation rates of ~1 million tonnes per year at a single site.

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    C393 Physical-chemical response to geomechanical processes during geological sequestration of scCO2

    Principal Investigators:

    Giovanni Grasselli, University of Toronto;  Aimy Bazylak, U of Toronto; Patrick Selvadurai, McGill University; Subhasis Ghoshal, McGill University; Alfonso Mucci, McGill University; David Cole, Ohio State University; John Wen, U Waterloo, Carolyn Ren, U Waterloo, Janusz Kozinski, York University; Morris Flynn, U of Alberta

    Summary:

    Presently, CO2 numerical simulations focus on just two processes, hydro and chemical, which often disregards the effect of mechanical stresses and geometry of the geological formations where CO2 is stored. Researchers on this project are working to provide a more complete picture of how injected CO2 interacts and influences complex geological formations. Through this project, scientists will develop a computational system that incorporates micro-scale level thermo, hydro, mechanical and chemical (THMC) processes that occur when CO2 is injected into geologic rock formations. This system will be used to estimate large-scale processes such as the rates at which CO2 can be injected without compromising the storage integrity of the host rock formation, the nature and extent of the stable plumes that develop as injection proceeds for several decades, and their possible interaction with potable groundwater systems.

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    C394 A new approach to quantitative CO2 injection monitoring with geo-electrical methods

    Principal Investigators:

    Dr. Bernard Giroux, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS);  Klaus Spitzer, Technische Universität Bergakadmie Freiberg; Douglas Schmitt, U of Alberta; Cornelia Schmidt-Hattenberger, GRZ Centre for CO2 Storage, Potsdam; Don White, Geological Survey of Canada

    Industry/Other Participants:

    Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Petroleum Technology Resource Centre, Junex

    Summary:

    Wide-scale public acceptance of CCS will not happen if the process is not viewed as secure. Researchers are working to improve methods to monitor the movement and behavior of CO2 that’s been injected into storage sites. The aim of this project is to develop a new approach that will improve quantitative monitoring and contribute to the deployment of CCS at scales significant for climate change mitigation. Researchers are developing an effective downhole geoelectrical technique that will complement current seismic methods used to monitor injected CO2. Data gathered through this new technique will be used to study and compare the relationship between the electrical conductivity and seismic properties of CO2/brine/rock mixtures. The technology will be tested in the lab and in the field and will lead to improved interpretation of seismic data.

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