The impact of partition coefficient data on the interpretation of chemical tracer behaviour in carbon geosequestration projects

Matthew Myers, Cameron White, Tara La Force, Charles Heath, Se Gong, Linda Stalker, Bobby Pejcic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Partition (or distribution) coefficients determine the relative equilibrium concentrations of chemical constituents (or chemical tracers) in each of the phases of a multi-phase system under dilute conditions. The various fluid phases in a reservoir have differing transport properties (e.g. varying relative permeability) and to correctly interpret the behaviour of injected chemical tracers it is essential that accurate partition coefficients are known. In the context of carbon geosequestration or long-term storage of CO2, chemical tracers will be predominantly exposed to an environment consisting of supercritical CO2 and formation water as the main fluid phases. To estimate/simulate the reservoir properties relevant to injected CO2 tagged with chemical tracers, it is therefore necessary to incorporate high pressure/temperature CO2/water partition coefficients into any model/simulation. In this paper, we present a method to determine these partition coefficients for gaseous chemical tracers using a variation of the widely used EPICS (or equilibrium partitioning in a closed system) method. With this method, only the concentration in one phase (in this case, CO2) needs to be measured. We then report these values for a series of representative chemical tracers (i.e. krypton, xenon, sulfur hexafluoride, perdeuterated methane and R134a) at pressure/temperature conditions that have been previously used at the CO2CRC's Otway CCS demonstration project in Victoria, Australia. These values were generally lower than the corresponding Henry's Law coefficients at comparable temperatures. Experiments also examined the impact of adding CH4 to the system to mimic feedstock gas at the CO2CRC Otway project and provide data pertinent to scenarios where CO2 is injected into depleted CH4 gas fields. These values are compared with Henry's Law coefficients and another recently published set of high pressure/temperature partition coefficients. With computational simulations, we have shown that these differences are potentially significant and demonstrate their impact in three typical CO2 geo-sequestration scenarios (i.e. injection into two types of aquifers and injection into a depleted reservoir with a gas cap).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-63
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2017

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