Capillary trapping in a vertically heterogeneous porous layer
AuthorHinton, EM; Woods, AW
Source TitleJournal of Fluid Mechanics
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
University of Melbourne Author/sHinton, Edward
AffiliationSchool of Mathematics and Statistics
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsHinton, E. M. & Woods, A. W. (2021). Capillary trapping in a vertically heterogeneous porous layer. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 910, https://doi.org/10.1017/jfm.2020.972.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLPublished version
The post-injection migration of a plume of CO2 through an inclined, confined porous layer across which the permeability varies is studied theoretically. We derive a sharp-interface lubrication model which accounts for the capillary trapping of CO2 at the receding edge of the plume. Eventually the CO2 becomes entirely trapped in the pore throats, and the final run-out distance is a key quantity for determining storage security and efficiency. We deploy asymptotic approximations to show that when the CO2 plume migrates a long distance relative to its initial length, the run-out distance is approximately proportional to the permeability at the top of the layer. The permeability structure away from the top boundary is important at early and intermediate times. Dissolution of the CO2 and three-dimensional effects are incorporated, which demonstrate that the influence of heterogeneity is quite general. The initial distribution of the CO2 at the end of the injection phase also influences the post-injection spreading and trapping. At low injection rates, the CO2 remains near the top of the layer so that the end-of-injection plume shape has a small aspect ratio leading to a relatively large run-out length. At very high fluxes, the end-of-injection shape and hence the final run-out distance becomes nearly independent of the injection flux because the role of buoyancy becomes negligible during injection. Our results illustrate the strong control of reservoir heterogeneity on the sweep efficiency of a CO2 plume and hence the storage capacity. In many situations, it may be possible to increase the storage volume by injecting at a higher rate.
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