Onset of convection controlled by N2 impurity during CO2 storage in saline aquifers

Saeed Mahmoodpour, Behzad Rostami, Hamid Emami-Meybodi

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20 Scopus citations


This paper presents experimental and theoretical studies of the onset of natural convection induced by the dissolution of carbon dioxide- nitrogen (CO2-N2) mixtures into brine. Using a high- pressure Hele-Shaw cell, we conducted four sets of experiments under high-pressure conditions (with initial pressure range of 3375 to 3691 kPa) where 0%, 10%, 20% and 100% (molar base) N2 at different brine salinities and permeability (Rayleigh number of 3120 to 4840) were conducted to obtain quantitative and qualitative data from pressure decay and image analysis respectively. Furthermore, we performed Linear Stability Analysis (LSA) based on the quasi-steady-state approximation and Direct Numerical Simulation (DNS) to theoretically examine the effect of N2 on the onset of convection. We calculated effective diffusion coefficients from experimental data, and then used them in the LSA and DNS analyses. The experimental results confirmed by theoretical analysis revealed that the onset of convection occurred earlier in 10% N2 - 90% CO2 cases than in the pure CO2 cases. On the other hand, the onset of convection for an impure CO2 mixture with 20% N2 was close to that of the pure CO2 system. These findings suggest that, depending on the mole fraction of N2, the presence of N2 as an impurity may impede or promote the onset of natural convection. Since both the solubility and diffusion of CO2 in brine are nonlinear functions of N2 concentration, increasing N2 concentration reduces the solubility and diffusion coefficient, which have opposing impacts on the stability of the diffusive boundary layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-247
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
StatePublished - Dec 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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