Experimental investigation of the sealing capacity of generic clay-rich caprocks

Alexandra Amann-Hildenbrand*, Pieter Bertier, Andreas Busch, Bernhard M. Krooss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


For a set of generic clay-rich lithotypes, gas breakthrough experiments with helium (He) and carbon dioxide (CO2) were conducted at elevated pressures and temperatures. Core plugs of 38mm diameter and approx. 15mm length were prepared and measurements were performed at confining pressures between 15 and 29MPa and temperatures of 25-45°C. Intrinsic permeability coefficients of the samples ranged between 3×10-18 and 2×10-22m2.Gas breakthrough and subsequent viscous gas flow could only be achieved for an argillaceous limestone and two mudstone samples with intrinsic permeability coefficients of 4×10-18 and 2×10-20m2, respectively. For the limestone, capillary gas breakthrough occurred between 1.2 and 2.9MPa (He). The gas (He and CO2) breakthrough pressure for the immature mudstone lay between 5 and 13MPa. Gas flow rates recorded after breakthrough revealed a linear relationship between effective gas permeability and differential pressure. Effective gas permeability coefficients were normalized to single-phase water permeability coefficients to obtain relative permeabilities. The highest relative gas permeability values of approximately 0.05 and 0.10, respectively, for He and CO2 were observed at a differential pressure of 10MPa.The mature shales with intrinsic permeabilities below 10-20m2 represent effective barriers and showed no indications of capillary gas breakthrough up to a pressure difference of at least 20MPa for He and 9MPa for CO2. Gas transport through these caprocks under the conditions of this study occurs only by diffusion, with average diffusion coefficients in the order of 10-11m2/s.Analyses of the sample plugs after exposure to CO2 revealed no recognizable mineral alterations. This is attributed to the fact that transport and reaction rates are very low and that only a small proportion of the internal surface area is exposed to the permeating fluid/CO2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-641
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Capillary sealing efficiency
  • Caprocks
  • Effective gas permeability
  • He and CO capillary breakthrough pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Pollution
  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Experimental investigation of the sealing capacity of generic clay-rich caprocks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this