Impact of the capillary pressure-saturation pore-size distribution parameter on geological carbon sequestration estimates

Author ORCID Identifier

Chu-Lin Cheng 0000-0002-1900-463X

Edmund Perfect 0000-0001-6819-003X


Cost estimates for geologic carbon sequestration (GCS) are vital for policy and decision makers evaluating carbon capture and storage strategies. Numerical models are often used in feasibility studies for the different stages of carbon injection and redistribution. Knowledge of the capillary pressure-saturation function for a selected storage rock unit is essential in applications used for simulating multiphase fluid flow and transport. However, the parameters describing these functions (e.g. the van Genuchten m pore size distribution parameter) are often not measured or neglected compared to other physical properties such as porosity and intrinsic permeability. In addition, the use of average instead of point estimates of m for numerical simulations of flow and transport can result in significant errors, especially in the case of coarse-grained sediments and fractured rocks. Such erroneous predictions can pose great risks and challenges to decision-making. We present a comparison of numerical simulation results based on average and point estimates of the van Genuchten m parameter for different porous media. Forward numerical simulations using the STOMP code were employed to illustrate the magnitudes of the differences in carbon sequestration predictions resulting from the use of height-averaged instead of point parameters. The model predictions were converted into cost estimates and the results indicate that varying m values in GCS modeling can cause cost differences of up to hundreds of millions dollars.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.