Limitations for brine acidification due to SO2 co-injection in geologic carbon sequestration

Brian R. Ellis, Lauren E. Crandell, Catherine Anne Peters

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57 Scopus citations


Co-injection of sulfur dioxide during geologic carbon sequestration can cause enhanced brine acidification. The magnitude and timescale of this acidification will depend, in part, on the reactions that control acid production and on the extent and rate of SO2 dissolution from the injected CO2 phase. Here, brine pH changes were predicted for three possible SO2 reactions: hydrolysis, oxidation, or disproportionation. Also, three different model scenarios were considered, including models that account for diffusion-limited release of SO2 from the CO2 phase. In order to predict the most extreme acidification potential, mineral buffering reactions were not modeled. Predictions were compared to the case of CO2 alone which would cause a brine pH of 4.6 under typical pressure, temperature, and alkalinity conditions in an injection formation. In the unrealistic model scenario of SO2 phase equilibrium between the CO2 and brine phases, co-injection of 1% SO2 is predicted to lead to a pH close to 1 with SO2 oxidation or disproportionation, and close to 2 with SO2 hydrolysis. For a scenario in which SO2 dissolution is diffusion-limited and SO2 is uniformly distributed in a slowly advecting brine phase, SO2 oxidation would lead to pH values near 2.5 but not until almost 400 years after injection. In this scenario, SO2 hydrolysis would lead to pH values only slightly less than those due to CO2 alone. When SO2 transport is limited by diffusion in both phases, enhanced brine acidification occurs in a zone extending only 5 m proximal to the CO2 plume, and the effect is even less if the only possible reaction is SO2 hydrolysis. In conclusion, the extent to which co-injected SO2 can impact brine acidity is limited by diffusion-limited dissolution from the CO2 phase, and may also be limited by the availability of oxidants to produce sulfuric acid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-582
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Acidification
  • Co-injectant
  • Diffusion
  • Geologic carbon storage
  • Impurities
  • SO


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