Improving understanding of CO2 migration, phase change, and trapping processes motivates the development of large-scale laboratory experiments to bridge the gap between bench-scale experiments and field-scale studies. Critical to the design of such experiments are defensible configurations that mimic relevant subsurface flow scenarios. We use numerical simulation with TOUGH2/ECO2M and ECO2N to design flow and transport experiments aimed at understanding upward flows including the transition of CO2 from supercritical to liquid and gaseous forms. These experiments are designed for a large-scale facility such as the proposed laboratory for underground CO2 investigations (LUCI). LUCI would consist of one or more long-column pressure vessels (LCPVs) several hundred meters in length filled with porous materials. An LCPV with an insulated outer wall corresponds to the column being at the center of a large upwelling plume. If the outer wall of the LCPV is assigned fixed temperature boundary conditions corresponding to the geothermal gradient, the LCPV represents a narrow upwelling through a fault or well. Numerical simulations of upward flow in the columns reveal complex temporal variations of temperature and saturation, including the appearance of liquid CO2 due to expansion cooling. The results are sensitive to outer thermal boundary conditions. Understanding of the simulations is aided by time-series animations of saturation-depth profiles and trajectories through P-T (pressure-temperature) space with superimposed phase saturations. The strong dependence of flow on hydrologic properties and the lack of knowledge of three-phase relative permeability and hysteresis underlines the need for large-scale flow experiments to understand multiphase leakage behavior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- expansion cooling
- long-column flow experiments