Carbon Sequestration in Saline Aquifers: Modeling Diffusive and Convective Transport Of a Carbon-­Dioxide Cap

  • Rebecca Allen

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


An increase in the earth’s surface temperature has been directly linked to the rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels In the atmosphere and an enhanced greenhouse effect. CO2 sequestration is one of the proposed mitigation Strategies in the effort to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Globally speaking, saline aquifers provide an adequate storage capacity for the world’s carbon emissions, and CO2 sequestration projects are currently underway in countries such as Norway, Germany, Japan, USA, and others. Numerical simulators serve as predictive tools for CO2 storage, yet must model fluid transport behavior while coupling different transport processes together accurately. With regards to CO2 sequestration, an extensive amount of research has been done on the diffusive-convective transport that occurs under a cap of CO2-saturated fluid, which results after CO2 is injected into an aquifer and spreads laterally under an area of low permeability. The diffusive-convective modeling reveals an enhanced storage capacity in saline aquifers, due to the density increase between pure fluid and CO2-saturated fluid. This work presents the transport modeling equations that are used for diffusive- convective modeling. A cell-centered finite difference method is used, and simulations are run using MATLAB. Two cases are explored in order to compare the results from this work’s self-generated code with the results published in literature. Simulation results match relatively well, and the discrepancy for a delayed onset time of convective transport observed in this work is attributed to numerical artifacts. In fact, onset time in this work is directly attributed to the instability of the physical system: this instability arises from non-linear coupling of fluid flow, transport, and convection, but is triggered by numerical errors in these simulations. Results from this work enable the computation of a value for the numerical constant that appears in the onset time equation that is derived from linear stability analysis. Novel work includes the determination of onset as the moment in time when non-zero velocities exist, and the impact of opening size. Results from this work confirm the enhanced CO2 storage capacity that may be predicted by modeling diffusive- convective transport.
Date of AwardMay 2011
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorShuyu Sun (Supervisor)

Cite this