Multiphase modeling of geologic carbon sequestration in saline aquifers

Karl W. Bandilla, Michael Anthony Celia, Jens T. Birkholzer, Abdullah Cihan, Evan C. Leister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Geologic carbon sequestration (GCS) is being considered as a climate change mitigation option in many future energy scenarios. Mathematical modeling is routinely used to predict subsurface CO2 and resident brine migration for the design of injection operations, to demonstrate the permanence of CO2 storage, and to show that other subsurface resources will not be degraded. Many processes impact the migration of CO2 and brine, including multiphase flow dynamics, geochemistry, and geomechanics, along with the spatial distribution of parameters such as porosity and permeability. In this article, we review a set of multiphase modeling approaches with different levels of conceptual complexity that have been used to model GCS. Model complexity ranges from coupled multiprocess models to simplified vertical equilibrium (VE) models and macroscopic invasion percolation models. The goal of this article is to give a framework of conceptual model complexity, and to show the types of modeling approaches that have been used to address specific GCS questions. Application of the modeling approaches is shown using five ongoing or proposed CO2 injection sites. For the selected sites, the majority of GCS models follow a simplified multiphase approach, especially for questions related to injection and local-scale heterogeneity. Coupled multiprocess models are only applied in one case where geomechanics have a strong impact on the flow. Owing to their computational efficiency, VE models tend to be applied at large scales. A macroscopic invasion percolation approach was used to predict the CO2 migration at one site to examine details of CO2 migration under the caprock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-377
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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