Dynamics of enhanced gas trapping applied to CO2 storage in the presence of oil using synchrotron X-ray micro tomography

Alessio Scanziani*, Kamaljit Singh, Hannah Menke, Branko Bijeljic, Martin J. Blunt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


During CO2 storage in depleted oil fields, under immiscible conditions, CO2 can be trapped in the pore space by capillary forces, providing safe storage over geological times - a phenomenon named capillary trapping. Synchrotron X-ray imaging was used to obtain dynamic three-dimensional images of the flow of the three phases involved in this process - brine, oil and gas (nitrogen) - at high pressure and temperature, inside the pore space of Ketton limestone. First, using continuous imaging of the porous medium during gas injection, performed after waterflooding, we observed chains of multiple displacements between the three phases, caused by the connectivity of the pore space. Then, brine was re-injected and double capillary trapping - gas trapping by oil and oil trapping by brine - was the dominant double displacement event. We computed pore occupancy, saturations, interfacial area, mean curvature and Euler characteristic to elucidate these double capillary trapping phenomena, which lead to a high residual gas saturation. Pore occupancy and saturation results show an enhancement of gas trapping in the presence of both oil and brine, which potentially makes CO2 storage in depleted oil reservoirs attractive, combining safe storage with enhanced oil recovery through immiscible gas injection. Mean curvature measurements were used to assess the capillary pressures between fluid pairs during double displacements and these confirmed the stability of the spreading oil layers observed, which facilitated double capillary trapping. Interfacial area and Euler characteristic increased, indicating lower oil and gas connectivity, due to the capillary trapping events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114136
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date23 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Capillary trapping
  • CCUS
  • EOR
  • Gas storage
  • Multiple displacements
  • Synchrotron
  • Three-phase flow
  • X-ray imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Energy(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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