The effect of anisotropic dispersion on the convective mixing in long-term CO2 storage in saline aquifers



Carbon dioxide storage in deep saline aquifers is considered a possible option to bring greenhouse gas emissions under control. The understanding of the underlying mechanisms, such as convective mixing and associated mechanisms, affecting this mixing may have an impact on the long-term sequestration process in deep saline aquifers. One of the significant aspects of the flow of miscible species in porous media is velocity dependent dispersion. The effect of dispersion on dissolution of carbon dioxide (CO2) into brine is investigated by full nonlinear numerical simulations. This study reveals that dispersion may dramatically change the trend of CO2 dissolution into brine. It was found that the dissolution of CO2 increases as dispersion strength increases. The mixing pattern also shows three different mechanisms: diffusion, convection, and a highly nonlinear interaction mechanism. However, the medium dispersivity ratios were found to slightly affect the mixing, while having an impact on the fingering pattern. © 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2011