Using bacteria to produce ‘cement’ for leakage remediation in underground storage applications – Development on novel mathematical models and open-source numerical simulators at NORCE

Caprocks in reservoirs provide the main trapping mechanism for underground storage applications, e.g., hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS). In CCS, the existence of leakage paths in the caprocks (e.g., fractures, faults, and abandoned wells) could lead to the migration of CO2 back to the atmosphere. It is therefore necessary to develop methods for mitigating leakage to ensure its long-term storability. This can be achieved by using special bacteria that under the right conditions can deposit enough cement-like minerals to block flow and stop CO2 from leaking.

Sist oppdatert: Mar 31, 2022
Published Mar 30, 2022
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Contamination of atmosphere and water caused by CO2 leakage. Illustration David Landa Marban

Research about novel mathematical models and development of numerical simulators for the bio-cementation technology called microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) was performed in the CLIMIT project MICAP: ‘Efficient models for microbially induced calcite precipitation as a seal for CO2 storage’. Prior to this project, a lot was understood about bio-cementation from bench-scale studies and very detailed and computationally expensive models. The goal of this project was to develop faster simulation tools that could be used to engineer bio-treatments for stopping leakage in real field sites. To achieve this, we first developed and implemented a MICP mathematical model using the open-source software MATLAB Reservoir Simulation Toolbox (MRST), which is a research tool for rapid prototyping and demonstration of new simulation methods and modeling concepts. Details on the model and implementation can be found in this paper. The implementation was made available in the latest official MRST release as the ad-micp module and it is fully compatible with GNU Octave (i.e., it is not required to have MATLAB to run the examples).

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Simulation of CO2 injection prior to and after MICP treatment using the ad-micp module in MRST. Illustration David Landa Marban. Click on this link to open and play the animation

The next step in the project was to implement the mathematical model in the Open Porous Media (OPM) initiative. OPM is open-source software for reservoir modeling and simulation of industry-standard, and various other computationally challenging models. Researchers in the Computational Geosciences and Modelling group at NORCE contribute to the maintenance and development of the code. The implementation of the MICP model was made available in the latest official OPM release (2021.10). Comparison between the implementation in MRST and OPM, in addition to MICP studies in more complex geometries, can be found in this paper. Once the model was implemented in OPM, we proceeded with optimization studies for the injection strategies to maximize leakage sealing. This has been submitted to publication and a preprint version can be found here.

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Simulation results using OPM Flow of (left) CO2 injection prior to MICP treatment, (middle) calcite volume fraction after applying the optimized injection (bio-cement treatment) strategy, and (right) CO2 injection after MICP treatment. Animation Illustration Landa Marban. Click on this link to open and play the animation

The MICAP project was funded by the NFR CLIMIT program (grant 268390) with Svenn Tveit as the project leader, and Sarah Gasda, David Landa Marban, and Kundan Kumar (UiB) in the core project team. If you have any comments/questions/ideas for collaboration, do not hesitate to contact us!


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