Basin-scale modeling of CO2 storage using models of varying complexity

Xinwo Huang, Karl W. Bandilla, Michael Anthony Celia, Stefan Bachu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Geological carbon storage can significantly contribute to climate-change mitigation only if it is deployed at a very large scale. This means that injection scenarios must occur, and be analyzed, at the basin scale. Various mathematical models of different complexity may be used to assess the fate of injected CO2 and/or resident brine. These models span the range from multi-dimensional, multi-phase numerical simulators to simple single-phase analytical solutions. In this study, we consider a range of models, all based on vertically integrated governing equations, to predict the basin-scale pressure response to specific injection scenarios. The Canadian section of the mid-continent Basal Aquifer is used as a test site to compare the different modeling approaches. The model domain covers an area of approximately 811,000km2, and the total injection rate is 63Mt/yr, corresponding to 9 locations where large point sources have been identified. Predicted areas of critical pressure exceedance are used as a comparison metric among the different modeling approaches. Comparison of the results shows that single-phase numerical models may be good enough to predict the pressure response over a large aquifer; however, a simple superposition of semi-analytical or analytical solutions is not sufficiently accurate because spatial variability of formation properties plays an important role in the problem, and these variations are not captured properly with simple superposition. We consider two different injection scenarios: injection at the source locations and injection at locations with more suitable aquifer properties. Results indicate that in formations with significant spatial variability of properties, strong variations in injectivity among the different source locations can be expected, leading to the need to transport the captured CO2 to suitable injection locations, thereby necessitating development of a pipeline network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-86
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
StatePublished - Jan 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


  • Basal Aquifer
  • Geological carbon sequestration
  • Injection scenarios
  • Large-scale pressure response
  • Model complexity


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