Experimental investigation of the CO2 sealing efficiency of caprocks

J. Wollenweber*, S. Alles, Andreas Busch, Bernhard M. Krooss, H. Stanjek, R. Littke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Citations (Scopus)


Using a combination of experimental (petrophysical and mineralogical) methods, the effects of high-pressure CO2 exposure on fluid transport properties and mineralogical composition of two pelitic caprocks, a limestone and a clay-rich marl lithotype have been studied. Single and multiphase permeability tests, gas breakthrough and diffusion experiments were conducted under in situ p/T conditions on cylindrical plugs (28.5 mm diameter, 10-20 mm thickness). The capillary CO2 sealing efficiency of the initially water-saturated sample plugs was found to decrease in repetitive gas breakthrough experiments on the same sample from 0.74 to 0.41 MPa for the limestone and from 0.64 to 0.43 MPa for the marl. Helium breakthrough experiments before and after the CO2 tests showed a decrease in capillary threshold (snap-off) pressure from 1.81 to 0.62 MPa for the limestone. Repetitive CO2 diffusion experiments on the marlstone revealed an increase in the effective diffusion coefficient from 7.8 × 10-11 to 1.2 × 10-10 m2. Single-phase (water) permeability coefficients derived from steady-state permeability tests ranged between 7 and 56 nano-Darcy and showed a consistent increase after each CO2 test cycle. Effective gas permeabilities were generally one order of magnitude lower than water permeabilities and exhibit the same trend. XRD measurements performed before and after exposure to CO2 did not reveal any distinct change in the mineral composition for both samples. Similarly, no significant changes were observed in specific surface areas (determined by BET) and pore-size distributions (determined by mercury injection porosimetry). High-pressure CO2 sorption experiments on powdered samples revealed significant CO2 sorption capacities of 0.27 and 0.14 mmol/g for the marlstone and the limestone, respectively. The changes in transport parameters in the absence of detectable mineral alterations may be explained by carbonate dissolution and further precipitation along a pH profile across the sample plug which would not be subject to quantitative mineral alteration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-241
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Capillary processes
  • Caprock integrity
  • CO diffusion
  • CO sorption
  • Gas breakthrough
  • Mineral reactions
  • Sealing efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Pollution
  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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