Monitoring injection gas with isotope analyses at a CO2-sequestration pilot study in a coal seam in Illinois

Keith C. Hackley, Abbas Iranmanesh, Bracken T. Wimmer, Shari E. Fanta, David G. Morse

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstract


Carbon dioxide was injected in the Springfield Coal at a depth of about 274m in Wabash County, southeastern Illinois. A total of 101 tons of CO2 gas was injected in pulses over 7 months beginning June, 2008. Gas chromatography and isotopic analyses of gases collected from 3 observations wells in the coal seam were completed to monitor the migration of the CO2 and coalbed methane. Two observation wells were aligned with the butt cleat orientation about 30m and 15m from the injection well and the third well was aligned with the face cleats about 30m from the injection well. The injected CO2 was a corn-based byproduct of an ethanol processing plant with a δ13C of -10.8 ‰ and a carbon-14 (14C) activity of 104 pMC. Values close to these would be expected for breakthrough of the injected CO2. Prior to breakthrough the concentration of CO2 in gas from the observation wells was very low, from <0.01 to ~ 0.2 % by volume with δ13C values from -4 to -32 ‰. Breakthrough occurred at different times in each observation well. It was nearly one month before the closest butt cleat well showed evidence of CO2 breakthrough with an abrupt increase of CO2 to about 12%. After nearly 4 months the concentration of CO2 in the second butt cleat well rose to 3.1% and by 6 months increased to 45% CO2. Breakthrough at the face cleat well (88% CO2) occurred nearly 6 months after the initial injection. The isotopic results confirmed the increase in CO2 concentrations at the observation wells originated from the injection. An interesting pattern was observed for the isotopic composition of the CO2 collected at the observation wells. The δ13C of the CO2 collected for the initial breakthrough was virtually the same as that injected; however, isotopically lighter values were observed as the concentration of CO2 leveled off. As the concentration of CO2 eventually increased isotopically heavier values were observed. This was also true for the 14C results. The trend of negative to more positive isotopic values can be explained by the tendency of coal to retain isotopically heavier molecules (13CO2) relative to the isotopically lighter CO2 (12CO2), as observed in the literature for laboratory canister desorption studies of coal. A somewhat similar pattern of isotopic results were also observed for the evolution of CH4 at the observation wells.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382
JournalGeological Society of America Abstracts with Programs
StatePublished - 2010


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