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X-ray CT and multiphase flow characterization of a 'bio-grouted' sandstone core : the effect of dissolution on seal longevity

Minto, James M. and Hingerl, Ferdinand F. and Benson, Sally M. and Lunn, Rebecca J. (2017) X-ray CT and multiphase flow characterization of a 'bio-grouted' sandstone core : the effect of dissolution on seal longevity. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 64. pp. 152-162. ISSN 1750-5836

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    Microbially induced carbonate precipitation (MICP) is a novel method for controlling permeability in the subsurface with potential for sealing or reducing leakage from subsurface engineering works such as carbon sequestration reservoirs. The purpose of this research was to measure, at core scale, the change in reservoir permeability and capillary pressure due to MICP during seal formation, then to monitor the integrity of the seal when exposed to acidic groundwater capable of causing dissolution. The experiment was carried out with a Berea sandstone core mounted in a high pressure core holder within a medical X-ray CT scanner. Multiple full volume CT scans gave spatially resolved maps of the changing porosity and saturation states throughout the experiment. Porosity and permeability decreased with MICP whilst capillary pressure was increased. Dissolution restored much of the original porosity, but not permeability nor capillary pressure. This lead to the conclusion that injection pathways were coupled with carbonate precipitation hence preferential flow paths sealed first and transport of the dissolution fluid was limited. Provided a high enough reduction in permeability can be achieved over a substantial volume, MICP may prove to be a durable bio-grout, even in acidic environments such as a carbon sequestration reservoir.