GeoEnergy research sponsored by the Royal
Academy of Engineering

Dr Matthew Hall, an Associate Professor in Materials Engineering at the University of Nottingham, has recently been appointed as the British Geological Survey/Royal Academy of Engineering Senior Research Fellow in “Rock-Fluid Interactions in Carbon Capture and Storage and Alternative Hydrocarbons”. His research activities focus on the characterisation of porous materials, with specific interests in transport phenomena including heat and fluid transport, hygrothermal behavior, physisorption, capillarity, permeability, evaporative drying, ion diffusion, and carbonation.

Skeletonised pore network model constructed using cylinders determined from mean pore diameter and indexed to a colour map. Note the spatial distribution of large saccate (or “ink bottle”) pores, in which injected fluids can become trapped.

GeoEnergy Research Centre (GERC)

Through the Fellowship, Dr Hall will be spearheading collaboration between the University of Nottingham (UoN) and the British Geological Survey (BGS) through his role as Director of the GeoEnergy Research Centre (GERC). GERC is a £3 million pioneering joint venture co-established by UoN and BGS. Its goal is to address the global energy trilemma by strategically focusing its combined efforts and capabilities on the multi-disciplinary research theme ‘rock-fluid interactions’. This includes aspects of CO2 geological storage, shale gas, groundwater, coal bed methane (CBM), underground coal gasification (UCG), enhanced oil recovery (EOR), gas hydrates, underground gas/ thermal storage, and radioactive waste storage.

The Centre’s purpose is to enable a unique and sustainable platform of collaborative research between UoN and BGS that (i) houses a critical mass of core expertise, (ii) is underpinned by novel and complimentary world class facilities, and (iii) brings together the wider research expertise of both organisations as well as benefitting from overseas collaborations in the US, China and Europe.

GERC operates through several cross UoN-BGS academic appointments and over 40 affiliated staff. It has several major joint research projects and funds many of its own core activities including a PhD Studentship and Early Career Research support programmes. It is also making substantial investments in the development of new facilities, equipment, networking and overseas travel funds, as well as additional academic appointments.

Advanced imaging techniques with Permo-Triassic Reservoir Rocks

One of the main research aims of the Fellowship is to develop a 3D understanding of the controls and distribution of pore space and permeability in various examples of the UK Permo-Triassic. This has major potential and relevance for research into CO2 storage, oil and gas, alternative hydrocarbons, underground gas storage, and underground thermal energy storage.

Advanced techniques for pore-scale fluid flow modelling are being developed, for example, using 3D imaging of pore networks and sandstone grain frameworks using X-Ray Computed Tomography (XRCT). This capability will enable experimentally imaged 4D processes so that a fundamental understanding of the process-structure-property relationships for reactive fluid flow in rocks can be obtained.  

(L) X-Ray CT orthographic projection of a Helsby Sandstone sample with (M) segmented porosity shown in blue, and from which (R) a 3D skeletonised pore network model has been reconstructed.

It will also enable new and important approaches to multi-scale modelling by combining pore-scale information with bulk-scale properties to allow dual porosity and dual permeability fluid flow models, e.g. for simulation of mobile and immobile fluid phases in argillaceous (clay-rich) cap rock materials that contain very different length-scales of pore sizes. This pore-scale information will also be used in conjunction with constitutive geomechanical and reservoir models to provide better fundamental understanding of how the injectivity and residual (capillary) trapping of fluids change when the pore structure of rocks is altered over time.


 

For further information please contact please
contact Dr Matthew
Hall (0115 84 67873;
E-mail:
matthew.
hall@nottingham.
ac.uk
).

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