Reservoir Physics – Energy Technology and CO2 Storage (CCUS)

Optimizing CO2 Foam Mobility Control for Field Pilots

Foam upscaling
Zachary Paul Alcorn

Main content

Global energy strategies must reflect climate and societal challenges. Technologies must be developed to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency. Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) is the only viable technology for substantial emission cuts for many industries. CCUS involves capturing CO2 emissions from industrial sources and utilizing the CO2 for simultaneous energy production and CO2 storage in subsurface reservoirs. The aim is to reduce the life-cycle emissions of fossil fuels and provide an economic pathway to decarbonizing our energy system. A major part of CCUS is CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and CO2 storage. CO2 EOR can store the gigaton volumes of CO2 needed to mitigate climate change, while generating a revenue for the industry; a crucial criteria for wide-spread implementation of CCUS. However, a major problem during CO2 injection is the low density and viscosity of CO2. These adverse properties can restrict energy production and CO2 storage efficiency. Foam can mitigate unfavorable CO2 properties to improve energy production and increase CO2 storage potential. CO2 foam injection involves injecting a foaming agent with CO2 to reduce its mobility. Surfactants are often used to stabilize foams, but they can breakdown in the reservoir due to adsorption, the presence of oil, and elevated temperatures and salinities. Thus, their ability to reduce CO2 mobility can be limited. The addition of nanoparticles to the surfactant-stabilized foam can increase its strength and stability. Therefore, this project includes nanoparticles in the surfactant-based foam for increased foam performance. The project will utilize state-of-the-art methods and tools, including advanced in-situ imaging techniques, high pressure/high temperature pore- and core-scale experiments, and numerical modeling. The goal is to develop new knowledge and upscaling strategies to reduce emissions while providing low-carbon energy for a transition to a net-zero society.