Supercritical fluid behavior at nanoscale interfaces: Implications for CO2 sequestration in geologic formations

DR Cole and AA Chialvo and G Rother and L Vlcek and PT Cummings, PHILOSOPHICAL MAGAZINE, 90, 2339-2363 (2010).

DOI: 10.1080/14786430903559458

Injection of CO2 into subsurface geologic formations has been identified as a key strategy for mitigating the impact of anthropogenic emissions of CO2. A key aspect of this process is the prevention of leakage from the host formation by an effective cap or seal rock which has low porosity and permeability characteristics. Shales comprise the majority of cap rocks encountered in subsurface injection sites with pore sizes typically less than 100 nm and whose surface chemistries are dominated by quartz (SiO2) and clays. We report the behavior of pure CO2 interacting with simple substrates, i.e. SiO2 and muscovite, that act as proxies for more complex mineralogical systems. Modeling of small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) data taken from CO2-silica aerogel (95% porosity; 7 nm pores) interactions indicates the presence of fluid depletion for conditions above the critical density. A theoretical framework, i.e. integral equation approximation (IEA), is presented that describes the fundamental behavior of near-critical adsorption onto a non-confining substrate that is consistent with SANS experimental results. Structural and dynamic behavior for supercritical CO2 interaction with muscovite (KAl2Si3AlO10(OH)2) was assessed by classical molecular dynamics (CMD). These results indicate the development of distinct layers of CO2 within slit pores, reduced mobility by one to two orders of magnitude compared to bulk CO2 depending on pore size and formation of bonds between CO2 oxygens and H from muscovite hydroxyls. Analysis of simple, well-characterized fluid-substrate systems can provide details on the thermodynamic, structural and dynamic properties of CO2 at conditions relevant to sequestration.

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