Cross-scale modeling of CO2/hydrocarbon conversion in hydrofractured shale

Can one extract methane gas from tight rocks in a controlled fossil energy production and, at the same time, capture and store the climate-hostile CO2 gas?

About the project

In shale gas systems, natural gas is produced directly from organic-rich shales through drilling and hydrofracturing. The methane is adsorbed at interfaces, absorbed by the kerogen shale, and contained as free gas and/or gas dissolved in water in pore volumes and fracture apertures. Interestingly, the affinity for carbon dioxide is stronger than the affinity for methane, and carbon dioxide may therefore be used to enhance gas production. This project involves fundamental research on the molecular physisorption/chemisorption and the meso-scale gas transport processes in nanostructured shales.

The project strategy is to combine our knowledge from condensed matter physics, forces theories for molecules, and continuous transport models to explore details in the physical properties and processes of carbon dioxide and methane in water-rich shale nanostructures. This will be realized by four scientifically intertwined work plans. WP1: Analyses of crystal structure and surface reconstruction by means of density functionals. WP2: Atomistic simulation of surface of adsorption and desorption. WP3: Green functions modeling of physisorption and chemisorption to analyze surface-gas-water interactions, molecule formation, and stiction.WP4: Explore the surface-near transport and deformation in shale systems with a direct simulation Monte Carlo approach.

The project will be carried out and completed at the Department of Physics at University of Oslo by the research teams at Geophysics, linked to Center for the Physics of Geological Processes, and at Structure Physics, linked to the Centre for Materials Science and Nanotechnology. Strong international collaboration will serve for networking, exchange of knowledge, and scientific visibility. Long-term international research visits by the PhD student and the postdoctor will strengthen these contacts.


Primary objectives:

1) Explore shale nanostructures by means of first-principles and cross-scale methods.
2) By understanding the underlying physical processes in hydrofractured kerogen shale, the ambition is to combine an effective carbon dioxide storage with an enhance natural gas production.

Secondary objectives:

3) We will couple the atomic-scale processes at surfaces to macro-scale transport and deformation.
4) From these methods, the molecular physisorption and chemisorption of carbon dioxide and methane will be described, and the diffusion of hydrocarbons in shale nanostructures will be analyzed.
5) We aim to demonstrate a controlled carbon sequestration and methane migration.
6) PhD and MSc students will be educated in cross-scale methods within this research project, but also through long-term international research visits.
7) The research is directly relevant also for a variety of similar physical systems, like for instance photocatalytic processes.


The Research Council of Norway

Published Mar. 11, 2013 11:21 AM - Last modified Feb. 22, 2019 7:53 AM