Simulation of Foam-Assisted CO2 Storage in Saline Aquifers


Geological storage of CO2 is a crucial emerging technology to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Due to the buoyant characteristic of injected gas and the complex geology of subsurface reservoirs, most injected CO2 either rapidly migrates to the top of the reservoir or fingers through high-permeability layers due to instability in the convection-dominated displacement. Both of these phenomena reduce the storage capacity of subsurface media.

CO2-foam injection is a promising technology for reducing gas mobility and increasing trapping within the swept region in deep brine aquifers. A consistent thermodynamic model based on a combination of a classic cubic equation of state (EOS) for gas components with an activity model for the aqueous phase has been implemented to describe the phase behavior of the CO2-brine system with impurities. This phase-behavior module is combined with representation of foam by an implicit-texture (IT) model with two flow regimes. This combination can accurately capture the complicated dynamics of miscible CO2 foam at various stages of the sequestration process.

The Operator-Based Linearization (OBL) approach is applied to reduce the nonlinearity of the CO2-foam problem by transforming the discretized conservation equations into space-dependent and state-dependent operators. Surfactant-alternating-gas (SAG) injection is applied to overcome injectivity problems related to pressure build-up in the near-well region. In this study, a 3D large-scale heterogeneous reservoir is used to examine CO2-foam behaviour and its effects on CO2 storage. Simulation studies show foams can reduce gas mobility effectively by trapping gas bubbles and inhibit CO2 from migrating upward in the presence of gravity, which in turn improves remarkably the sweep efficiency and opens the unswept region for CO2 storage. We also study how surfactant injection and forming of foam affect enhanced dissolution of CO2 at various thermodynamic conditions. This work provides a possible strategy to develop robust and efficient CO2 storage technology.