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Pulsed fluid pumping for remediation of leakage from geological storage

Project Description

Geological energy (geoenergy) options such as CO2, hydrogen or compressed air energy storage and hydrogen or natural gas extraction are deemed fundamental to achieving the necessary transition to a low carbon future. To be effective, risks relating to geoenergy engineering activities must be characterised and managed. To date, most geoenergy research has focussed on robust selection, operation and monitoring approaches. Relatively little attention has been paid to developing effective remediation options in the case of geofluid leakage from depth to surface away from wellbores. Further, research has tended to focus on characterising flow at depth conditions relevant to storage (which tend to be deeper than 800 m below surface). This project will address these gaps by investigating pulsed flow for leakage remediation in the shallow subsurface.
Multiple possible pathways for unintended leakage to surface (or shallow subsurface) of geofluids (and associated additives or contaminants) have been identified, such as improperly sealed boreholes, or geological heterogeneities such as fault zones. Remediation techniques for the former are well known and studied but remediating migration away from wellbores is less well constrained. Leaked fluids may migrate towards the surface, where the fluid flow and the rock properties will be different from those at depth. In order to minimise negative social and environmental risks and impacts of geofluid leakage, surface release must be minimised or avoided. Remediation approaches could include either fluid extraction from newly drilled wells or the injection of fluids to clean-up (sweep, dissolve, disperse, breakdown) leaked geofluid and associated contaminants. Such injection will be influenced by the host rock properties and the pumping capabilities. This PhD will investigate the interplay between these factors.
The key research questions to be addressed are:
1. How does the flow behaviour of geoenergy fluids through (fractured) porous media change from depth towards the earth surface?
2. How is the flow of geoenergy fluids (e.g. CO2, geothermal brine) through (fractured) porous media influenced by pulsed fluid flow?
3. Can remediation of geoenergy fluids be improved through pulsed or steady injection of fluids into shallow subsurface?
4. How can pulsed fluid remediation technology be integrated into geoenergy site selection and monitoring programs?

The student would join the multidisciplinary and world leading Centre for Ground Engineering and Energy Geosciences within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, an almost equal mix of engineers and geoscientists tackling the challenges of energy and resource production. The student will benefit from interaction with other academics and PhD students within this active research community, as well as being embedded within the SMART Pumps for Subsurface Engineering EPSRC-funded multi-institutional partnership, and interacting and engaging with researchers at the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh.
The student would graduate with a skill set suitable for employment in energy, geological risk, resource extraction, environmental engineering and geothermal industries.

Funding Notes

Fees, stipend and project expenses. The applicant should hold a minimum of an upper second class BSc Honours degree (or equivalent) in subjects relevant to Physical Sciences. Additional experience or skills development relevant to geoscience or environmental engineering, such as modelling, structural geology, hydrogeology, CO2 storage. The ideal candidate should have a desire to work in an interdisciplinary, applications-focused field of recognised international importance in geoscience. Candidates with some prior research and/or work experience in the geological/structural/hydrological/modelling sciences will be given priority.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Strathclyde in Civil and Construction Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 20.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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