Reservoir-Condition Pore-Scale Imaging of Reaction in Carbonates using Synchrotron Fast Tomography
Abstract:Carbon capture and storage in carbonate reservoirs is essential for mitigating climate change. Supercritical CO2 mixed with host brine is acidic and can dissolve the surrounding pore structure and change flow dynamics. However, the type, speed, and magnitude of the dissolution are dependent on both the reactive transport properties of the pore-fluid and the intrinsic properties of the rock. Understanding how changes in the pore structure, chemistry, and flow properties affect dissolution is vital for successful predictive modelling both on the pore-scale and for up-scaled reservoir simulations.
Reaction in carbonates has been studied at the pore-scale but has never been imaged dynamically in situ. We present an experimental method whereby both lab-based benchtop instruments and ‘Pink Beam’ synchrotron radiation are used in X-ray microtomography to investigate pore structure changes during supercritical CO2 injection at reservoir conditions.
Three types of pure limestone rock with broadly varying rock topology were imaged under the same reservoir conditions. Flow-rate and brine acidity was varied in successive experiments by half an order of magnitude to gain insight into the impact of flow, transport, and physical heterogeneity. The images were binarized and the magnitude of dissolution was identified on a voxel-by-voxel basis to extract pore-by-pore dissolution data. The impact of dissolution on flow characteristics was studied by computing the evolution of the pore-scale velocity fields with a flow solver. We found that increasing rock heterogeneity increased channelized flow [Figure 1] through preferential pathways and that higher flow rate increased total dissolution. Additionally, decreasing reaction rate lowered overall reaction rate and made axial flow less uniform.
Experimentally measured reaction rates in real rocks are at least an order of magnitude lower when compared to batch experiments. We provide evidence that this can be due to transport limitations whose impact is dependent on pore architecture, flow conditions, and reaction rates.