The role of advanced reactive surface area characterization in improving predictions of mineral reaction rates
Friday, 19 December 2014
Geologic sequestration of CO2 in deep sedimentary formations is a promising means of mitigating carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants but the long-term fate of injected CO2 is challenging to predict. Reactive transport models are used to gain insight over long times but rely on laboratory determined mineral reaction rates that have been difficult to extrapolate to field systems. This, in part, is due to a lack of understanding of mineral reactive surface area. Many models use an arbitrary approximation of reactive surface area, applying orders of magnitude scaling factors to measured BET or geometric surface areas. Recently, a few more sophisticated approaches have used 2D and 3D image analyses to determine mineral-specific reactive surface areas that account for the accessibility of minerals. However, the ability of these advanced surface area estimates to improve predictions of mineral reaction rates has yet to be determined. In this study, we fuse X-ray microCT, SEM QEMSCAN, XRD, SANS, and SEM-FIB analysis to determine mineral-specific accessible reactive surface areas for a core sample from the Nagaoka pilot CO2 injection site (Japan). This sample is primarily quartz, plagioclase, smectite, K-feldspar, and pyroxene. SEM imaging shows abundant smectite cement and grain coatings that decrease the fluid accessibility of other minerals. However, analysis of FIB-SEM images reveals that smectite nano-pores are well connected such that access to underlying minerals is not occluded by smectite coatings. Mineral-specific accessible surfaces are determined, accounting for the connectivity of the pore space with and without connected smectite nano-pores. The large-scale impact of variations in accessibility and dissolution rates are then determined through continuum scale modeling using grid-cell specific information on accessible surface areas. This approach will be compared with a traditional continuum scale model using mineral abundances and common surface area estimates. Ultimately, the effectiveness of advanced surface area characterization to improve mineral dissolution rates will be evaluated by comparison of model results with dissolution rates measured from a flow-through column experiment.