Long-term viability of carbon sequestration in deep-sea sediments

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Science Advances  04 Jul 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 7, eaao6588
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao6588

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Sequestration of carbon dioxide in deep-sea sediments has been proposed for the long-term storage of anthropogenic CO2 that can take advantage of the current offshore infrastructure. It benefits from the negative buoyancy effect and hydrate formation under conditions of high pressure and low temperature. However, the multiphysics process of injection and postinjection fate of CO2 and the feasibility of subseabed disposal of CO2 under different geological and operational conditions have not been well studied. With a detailed study of the coupled processes, we investigate whether storing CO2 into deep-sea sediments is viable, efficient, and secure over the long term. We also study the evolution of multiphase and multicomponent flow and the impact of hydrate formation on storage efficiency. The results show that low buoyancy and high viscosity slow down the ascending plume and the forming of the hydrate cap effectively reduces permeability and finally becomes an impermeable seal, thus limiting the movement of CO2 toward the seafloor. We identify different flow patterns at varied time scales by analyzing the mass distribution of CO2 in different phases over time. We observe the formation of a fluid inclusion, which mainly consists of liquid CO2 and is encapsulated by an impermeable hydrate film in the diffusion-dominated stage. The trapped liquid CO2 and CO2 hydrate finally dissolve into the pore water through diffusion of the CO2 component, resulting in permanent storage. We perform sensitivity analyses on storage efficiency under variable geological and operational conditions. We find that under a deep-sea setting, CO2 sequestration in intact marine sediments is generally safe and permanent.

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