Hydromechanical Aspects of CO2 Breakthrough into Clay-rich Caprock

R. Y. Makhnenko, V. Vilarrasa, D. Mylnikov, L. Laloui

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Caprock formations are intended to prevent upwards carbon dioxide (CO2) migration to the surface during CO2 geological storage. Caprock interaction with CO2, as well as its potential consequences, requires to be predicted, and thus, need to be studied experimentally. Laboratory investigations of caprock behavior are complex due to its low permeability, and the scarcity of experimental studies involving high-pressure CO2 injection into caprock representatives puts this difficulty into manifest. In this study, we perform laboratory experiments in an oedometric cell on intact and remolded Opalinus clay (Jurassic shale), evaluating the breakthrough pressure and permeability for liquid and supercritical CO2. Intact and remolded shale specimens present intrinsic permeabilities of 10-21 m2 to 10-20 m2, respectively. Applied axial stress ranges from 27 MPa to 42 MPa and the pressure and temperature conditions are representative of a caprock at a depth of 800 m. We found that the microstructure of the caprock has a great effect on the material properties. The intrinsic permeability of a more tight material (intact Opalinus clay) is around two times lower than that of remolded shale, which has a more open microstructure. Additionally, the intact rock becomes 30 times less permeable to CO2 than the remolded shale, which implies that the CO2 relative permeability is 15 times smaller for intact rock than for remolded shale. On the other hand, CO2 breakthrough pressure for the tighter material is almost three times lower than for the more permeable remolded shale. Breakthrough pressure of the remolded shale ranges from 3.9 MPa to 5.0 MPa for liquid CO2 and from 2.8 MPa to 4.6 MPa for supercritical CO2. For the intact shale, breakthrough pressure is 0.9 MPa for liquid CO2 and 1.6 MPa for supercritical CO2. Thus, the breakthrough pressure cannot be correlated with the intrinsic permeability of the caprock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3219-3228
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Procedia
StatePublished - 2017
Event13th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies, GHGT 2016 - Lausanne, Switzerland
Duration: Nov 14 2016Nov 18 2016


  • Caprock
  • breakthrough pressure
  • liquid and supercritical CO
  • permeability
  • shale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)


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