Pore-scale modeling of reactive transport in wellbore cement under CO2 storage conditions

A. Raoof, H. M. Nick, T. K T Wolterbeek, C. J. Spiers

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75 Citations (Scopus)


A modular pore-scale model is developed to assess the response of wellbore cement to geological storage of CO2. Numerical formulations for modeling of solute transport are presented and a methodology for coupling with geochemical processes is discussed, which includes: (1) advective and diffusive fluxes of solutes within the pore space, (2) aqueous phase speciation, (3) mineral dissolution-precipitation kinetics, and (4) the subsequent changes in pore space geometry. A Complex Pore Network Model (CPNM) is used to discretize the continuum porous structure as a network of pore bodies and pore throats, both with finite volumes. CPNM allows for a distribution of pore coordination numbers ranging between 1 and 26. This topological property, together with a geometrical distribution of pore sizes, enables the microstructure of porous media to be mimicked. For each pore element, transport of solute is calculated by solving the governing mass balance equations. Chemical reaction of the fluid phase with the main reactive solid components (portlandite and calcite) is incorporated through coupling with a geochemical reactive simulator. Average values and properties are obtained by integration over a large number of pores. Using this approach, we investigate how chemical reaction between water-bearing wellbore cement and supercritical CO2 can create a distribution of porosity in a direction parallel to the CO2 concentration gradient and transport path, at 50°C. The dynamics of this process involve interaction between diffusion dominated mass transport and the kinetics of dissolution and precipitation of portlandite and/or calcite. Simulation of unconfined chemical degradation, in a fluid of constant composition, shows development of different regions: (1) a zone adjacent to the inlet face, which is characterized by an increase in porosity due to extensive dissolution, (2) a carbonation zone with decreased porosity, (3) the carbonation front which made a thin layer with the lowest porosity due to calcium carbonate precipitation, and (4) dissolution zone. These results are in agreement with laboratory observations under similar conditions. This provides confidence that this pore-scale approach can ultimately be applied to model the progress of coupled CO2 transport and cement degradation at critical points along the length of cemented wellbore sections at CO2 storage sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-77
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
Issue numberSUPPL
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cement degradation
  • CO storage
  • Dissolution-precipitation reactions
  • Pore network
  • Porous medium
  • Reactive transport modeling
  • Wellbore integrity


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