Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is a significant means to trap CO2 from the atmosphere and store it efficiently, and scientists are using a supercomputer to optimize the process.
Researcher Sahar Bakhshian from the University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology has been researching CCS to prove its effectiveness. The focus of her research is to optimize the amount of CO2 that can be stored using supercomputer simulations.
Why do we need CCS?
Fossil fuels have been deteriorating our environment for decades. And as a result, society on a global level is distancing itself from oil and gas and opting for sustainable alternatives.
More attention is being directed towards the concept of carbon capture and carbon storage because of the ever-increasing threat of global warming.
To store carbon dioxide first, CO2 needs to be trapped from industrial sources before it can be injected into deep geological reservoirs. These consist of porous rocks where the CO2 can be kept for thousands of years.
The innovative idea of carbon capture and storage
Even though many utilisation techniques have been introduced over the years, people still don’t know a lot about the storage concept.
Trapping CO2 alone is not enough – it’s also necessary to learn how to store it. Bakhshian started working on supercomputer simulations to know how to optimize carbon capture and storage.
The Texas Advanced Computer Center (TACC) has supercomputers for the same research. It allows to experiment using various injection rates and wettability to examine how much CO2 can be stored in the spaces between rocks.
Wettability means how perfectly sure molecules can stick to the rock surface, and injection rate is the rate of supercritical CO2 being pushed into the reservoir; both are significant factors.
Consider CO2 storage in the left subsurface.
The CO2 migration pattern is obtained from a digitized rock sample from a four-scale two-phase flow simulation.
Here the concept of capillary trapping comes into action. CO2 pinches off and gets immobilized in the pole space. It plays a dynamic role in keeping the gas stored for a long period of time.
The Gulf Coast Carbon Center (GCCC) supports Bahkshian’s research, and they believe it can be revolutionary for storing carbon on a large scale.
“Computational fluid dynamics techniques are essential for this particular field,” Bahkshian said It allows to “better screen suitable target reservoirs for CO2 storage, and predict the behaviour of CO2 plumes in these reservoirs.”
More advanced carbon storage technologies can emerge with time with the help of this research, especially in the US. The Global CCS institute claims that the US is uniquely positioned to store CO2 geologically.
As claimed by the International Panel on Climate Change, CCS is one of the tools society has to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.