Practical modeling approaches for geological storage of carbon dioxide

Michael Anthony Celia, Jan M. Nordbotten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


The relentless increase of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and the associated concerns about climate change have motivated new ideas about carbon-constrained energy production. One technological approach to control carbon dioxide emissions is carbon capture and storage, or CCS. The underlying idea of CCS is to capture the carbon before it emitted to the atmosphere and store it somewhere other than the atmosphere. Currently, the most attractive option for large-scale storage is in deep geological formations, including deep saline aquifers. Many physical and chemical processes can affect the fate of the injected CO2, with the overall mathematical description of the complete system becoming very complex. Our approach to the problem has been to reduce complexity as much as possible, so that we can focus on the few truly important questions about the injected CO2, most of which involve leakage out of the injection formation. Toward this end, we have established a set of simplifying assumptions that allow us to derive simplified models, which can be solved numerically or, for the most simplified cases, analytically. These simplified models allow calculation of solutions to large-scale injection and leakage problems in ways that traditional multicomponent multiphase simulators cannot. Such simplified models provide important tools for system analysis, screening calculations, and overall risk-assessment calculations. We believe this is a practical and important approach to model geological storage of carbon dioxide. It also serves as an example of how complex systems can be simplified while retaining the essential physics of the problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-638
Number of pages12
JournalGround Water
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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