Self-healing of cement fractures under dynamic flow of CO2-rich brine

Peilin Cao, Zuleima Karpyn, Li Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Fractures and defects in wellbore cement can lead to increased possibilities of CO2 leakage from abandoned wells during geological carbon sequestration. To investigate the physicochemical response of defective wellbore cement to CO2-rich brine, we carried out a reactive flow-through experiment using an artificially fractured cement sample at a length of 224.8 mm. A brine solution with dissolved CO2 at a pH of approximately 3.9 was injected through the sample at a constant rate of 0.0083 cm3/s. Surface optical profilometry analysis and 3-D X-ray microtomography imaging confirmed fracture closure and self-healing behavior consistent with the measured permeability decrease. Visual inspection of the reacted fracture surface showed the development of reactive patterns mapping the flow velocity field inside the fracture, as well as restricted flow toward the sample outlet. The postexperiment permeability of the core sample was measured at half of its initial permeability. A reactive transport model was developed with parameters derived from the experiment to further examine property evolution of fractured cement under dynamic flow of CO2-rich brine. Sensitivity analysis showed that residence time and the size of initial fracture aperture are the key factors controlling the tendency to self-healing or fracture opening behavior and therefore determine the long-term integrity of the wellbore cement. Longer residence time and small apertures promote mineral precipitation, fracture closure, and therefore flow restriction. This work also suggests a narrow threshold separating the fracture opening and self-sealing behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4684-4701
Number of pages18
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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