Mathematical modeling is an essential tool for answering questions related to geologic carbon storage (GCS). The choice of modeling approach depends on the type of questions being asked. In this paper we discuss a series of approaches with a hierarchical complexity including vertically-integrated single-phase flow approaches, vertically-integrated multi-phase flow approaches (with and without vertical equilibrium assumption), three-dimensional multi-phase flow approaches, and fully-coupled multi-phase flow approaches that couple flow with geochemistry and/or geomechanics. Three spatial scales are used to categorize the questions to be addressed by modeling: regional scale (encompasses CO2 plume extent and majority of area of pressure impact of one or more injection operations), site scale (includes the CO2 plume extent and some of the area impacted by the pressure increase of a single injection site), and well scale (the immediate vicinity of an injection well). A set of guidelines is developed to help modelers choose the most appropriate modeling approach, and show when simpler modeling approaches may be the better choice. Vertically-integrated single-phase flow models are the most appropriate choice at both the site and regional scales, if the pressure impact outside of the CO2 plume is of interest. Vertically-integrated multi-phase flow models should be chosen at the regional scale, if the locations of CO2 plumes are of interest, and at the site scale if vertical segregation of CO2 and brine is fast or vertical heterogeneity in properties can be presented by distinct, continuous layers. Three-dimensional multi-phase flow models are the appropriate choice at the well and site scales for cases with significant vertical flow components of CO2 and brine. Fully-coupled multi-phase flow models should only be chosen if pore-space alteration through geochemistry or geomechanics feeds back to fluid flow.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
- Decision criteria
- Geologic carbon storage modeling
- Model choice
- Model complexity