Modeling basin- and plume-scale processes of CO2 storage for full-scale deployment

Quanlin Zhou, Jens T. Birkholzer, Edward Mehnert, Yu Feng Lin, Keni Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Integrated modeling of basin- and plume-scale processes induced by full-scale deployment of CO2 storage was applied to the Mt. Simon Aquifer in the Illinois Basin. A three-dimensional mesh was generated with local refinement around 20 injection sites, with approximately 30 km spacing. A total annual injection rate of 100 Mt CO2 over 50 years was used. The CO2-brine flow at the plume scale and the single-phase flow at the basin scale were simulated. Simulation results show the overall shape of a CO2 plume consisting of a typical gravity-override subplume in the bottom injection zone of high injectivity and a pyramid-shaped subplume in the overlying multilayered Mt. Simon, indicating the important role of a secondary seal with relatively low-permeability and high-entry capillary pressure. The secondary-seal effect is manifested by retarded upward CO2 migration as a result of multiple secondary seals, coupled with lateral preferential CO2 viscous fingering through high-permeability layers. The plume width varies from 9.0 to 13.5 km at 200 years, indicating the slow CO2 migration and no plume interference between storage sites. On the basin scale, pressure perturbations propagate quickly away from injection centers, interfere after less than 1 year, and eventually reach basin margins. The simulated pressure buildup of 35 bar in the injection area is not expected to affect caprock geomechanical integrity. Moderate pressure buildup is observed in Mt. Simon in northern Illinois. However, its impact on groundwater resources is less than the hydraulic drawdown induced by long-term extensive pumping from overlying freshwater aquifers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-514
Number of pages21
JournalGround Water
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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