Dynamic Pore-Scale Imaging of Reactive Transport in Heterogeneous Carbonates at Reservoir Conditions Across Multiple Dissolution Regimes

Friday, 19 December 2014
Hannah P Menke1, Branko Bijeljic2, Matthew Glynne Andrew2 and Martin Julian Blunt3, (1)Imperial College London, Earth Science and Engineering, London, United Kingdom, (2)Imperial College London, London, SW7, United Kingdom, (3)Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
Sequestering carbon in deep geologic formations is one way of reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions. When supercritical COmixes with brine in a reservoir, the acid generated has the potential to dissolve the surrounding pore structure. However, the magnitude and type of dissolution are condition dependent. Understanding how small changes in the pore structure, chemistry, and flow properties affect dissolution is paramount for successful predictive modelling.

Both ‘Pink Beam’ synchrotron radiation and a Micro-CT lab source are used in dynamic X-ray microtomography to investigate the pore structure changes during supercritical CO2 injection in carbonate rocks of varying heterogeneity at high temperatures and pressures and various flow-rates.

Three carbonate rock types were studied, one with a homogeneous pore structure and two heterogeneous carbonates. All samples are practically pure calcium carbonate, but have widely varying rock structures. Flow-rate was varied in three successive experiments by over an order of magnitude whlie keeping all other experimental conditions constant. A 4-mm carbonate core was injected with CO2-saturated brine at 10 MPa and 50oC. Tomographic images were taken at 30-second to 20-minute time-resolutions during a 2 to 4-hour injection period. A pore network was extracted using a topological analysis of the pore space and pore-scale flow modelling was performed directly on the binarized images with connected pathways and used to track the altering velocity distributions.

Significant differences in dissolution type and magnitude were found for each rock type and flowrate. At the highest flow-rates, the homogeneous carbonate was seen to have predominately uniform dissolution with minor dissolution rate differences between the pores and pore throats. Alternatively, the heterogeneous carbonates which formed wormholes at high flow rates. At low flow rates the homogeneous rock developed wormholes, while the heterogeneous samples showed evidence of compact dissolution. This study serves as a unique benchmark for pore-scale reactive transport modelling directly on the binarized Micro-CT images. Dynamic pore-scale imaging methods offer advantages in helping explain the dominant processes at the pore scale so that they may be up-scaled for accurate model prediction.