Impact of microbial-rock-CO2 interactions on containment and storage security of supercritical CO2 in carbonates

Oladoyin Kolawole, Cecil Millikan, Mallika Kumar, Ion Ispas, Brandon Schwartz, Joachim Weber, Luka Badurina, Branimir Šegvić

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Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) has been widely adopted as a key technology to mitigate anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and to meet the 2050 net-zero carbon emission target. However, the long-term CO2 storage security and potential leakage in geologic formations still pose a major concern to the commercial implementation and viability of CCS as an efficient and safe carbon-negative technology against climate change. Also, the long-term effectiveness of carbonate formations for carbon sequestration is poorly constrained due to the reactivity of carbonates with pore water when exposed to CO2, the possible leakage paths that might develop, and potential consequences that could occur. Here, we examine CO2 storage in carbonate formations and the possible leakage issues and explore a potential remediation technology for improving storage security in carbonate formations to mitigate CO2 leakage and achieve long-term containment. In this study, samples from deep carbonate intervals are treated with cultured microbial media and/or supercritical CO2 (ScCO2). These treatments are complemented with pre- and post-treatment geomechanical tests, permeability measurements, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), and X-ray Diffraction (XRD) analyses to assess mechanical, chemical, and microstructural responses of carbonates exposed to ScCO2 in the presence or absence of microbial media in the pore volume. The results indicate that, in the absence of sufficient post-injection remediation, the long-term integrity of CO2 storage in carbonate reservoirs may be compromised by CO2 leakage leading to environmental degradation. However, analyses of results suggest that coupling microbial treatment with CCS in carbonate reservoirs can potentially maintain long-term CO2 storage security by moderately enhancing its mechanical strength and integrity. In tight carbonate samples, unconfined compressive strength is shown to increase +85% with Poisson's ratio decreasing by 32% and fracture toughness increasing +108%. In more porous carbonate samples, unconfined compressive strength increases +64%, Poisson's ratio decreases by 34%, and fracture toughness increases +130%, all relative to the same CO2 saturation in carbonates without microbial media. Further, results show a post-microbial-CO2 change in permeability, dissolution and reprecipitation of stronger minerals due to microstructural alteration and occlusion of leakage pathways. This study provides new insights into the viability of CCS in carbonate reservoirs with microbial treatment as an efficient technology against climate change and greenhouse gas emissions to prevent leakage of stored CO2 and provide adequate long-term CO2 storage retention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103755
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Biogeomechanics
  • CO storage
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Carbonate
  • Supercritical CO
  • Sustainable energy


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