Defining Noble Gas Partitioning for Carbon Capture and Storage Environments

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Oliver Warr1, Andrew Masters2, Christopher Rochelle3 and Christopher J Ballentine1, (1)University of Oxford, Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford, United Kingdom, (2)University of Manchester, School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, Manchester, United Kingdom, (3)British Geological Survey Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom
For viable CCS implementation variables such as CO2 dissolution rates, reactions with the host rock and the extent of groundwater interaction must be accurately constrained. Noble gases play an important role in these systems [e.g. 1,2]. Their application, however, requires accurate Henry’s constants within dense CO2-H2O systems. Current interpretations use pure noble gas-H2O partitioning data [3,4] and assume CO2-noble gas interactions are negligible, even at high (>700 kg/m3) CO2 densities [2].

To test this assumption we experimentally determined noble gas CO2-H2O partitioning for the 170-656 kg/m3 CO2 density range; representative of most CCS environments. Contrary to assumption, CO2 density significantly affected noble gas partition coefficients. For helium, increasing CO2 density resulted in a negative deviation trend from CO2-free values whilst for argon, krypton and xenon strong, positive deviations were observed. At 656 kg/m3 these deviations were -35%, 74%, 114% and 321% respectively. This is interpreted as the CO2 phase acting as a polar solvent inducing polarisation in the noble gases. Deviation trends are well defined using a 2nd order polynomial. The effect of a dense CO2 phase can now be incorporated into existing noble gas models.

We also present results from a Gibbs-Ensemble Monte Carlo molecular simulation to model partitioning for this binary system. This fundamental technique makes predictions based on the pair-potentials of interaction between the molecules. Here it gives the phase compositions and Henry coefficients for noble gases. With a proven ability in accurately replicating both the CO2-H2O system and low pressure noble gas Henry constants the focus is now on fully optimising the model to match high pressure observations.

[1] Gilfillan et al. (2009) Nature 458 614-618 [2] Gilfillan et al. (2008) GCA 72 1174-1198 [3] Crovetto et al. (1982) J.Chem.Phys. 76 1077-1086 [4] Ballentine et al. in Porcelli et al. (eds.) (2002) Rev.Min.Geo. 47 539-614.