NETL is developing models to store carbon dioxide in the subsurface

Published on July 05, 2023 by Dave Kovaleski


The development of computational models and software applications by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) could accelerate the use of technologies to inject and store hundreds of years of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the subsurface.

This innovative use of data, leveraged by using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), will provide researchers, technology developers, regulators, and others with the ability to accurately predict how CO2 will behave when it is sequestered in underground storage reservoirs. It can be used to forecast how CO2 will react with subsurface conditions, understand subsurface features, develop reliable estimates for storage capacity, estimate the porosity of rock layers, and build real-time visualizations of faults and fracture networks and subsurface flows.

This will help establish the digital infrastructure and science-based capabilities to save the planet and meet the nation’s goals for a 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and a net-zero-carbon economy by 2050. This initiative is supported by President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Instructure Law (BIL). The $1.2 trillion legislation includes specific funding to advance NETL data analysis projects for CO2 sequestration.

The new tools have been designed to mine the massive volumes of subsurface information in the Energy Data eXchange (EDX), which was created by DOE and NETL in 2011. The EDX is an open-source digital platform to support energy research through efficient data access and cross-research collaboration. Currently, EDX publicly hosts more than 23,000 published data resources, almost 25 million federated data resources, and 48 EDX research and development groups where information can be shared and analyzed across research teams.

The five-year project targets the deployment of strategic data integration, model/tool virtualization and capacity building through the DisCO2ver Platform hosted within the EDX data system. DisCO2ver will host virtualized tools, data sets, geospatial data, dashboards, search capabilities, and more. In short, DisCO2ver is being developed as a central hub for all things carbon storage. It aligns with larger data and advanced computing innovations sponsored through NETL’s Science-based AI/ML Institute (SAMI).

Also, NETL’s National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP) is focused on developing and demonstrating computational tools that serve as the engine for quantitative assessment of risks associated with geologic carbon storage. These tools fall into three topic areas — ensuring containment effectiveness/quantifying leakage risk, assessing subsurface stress and managing induced seismicity, and strategic monitoring design for uncertainty reduction.

NRAP researchers are focused on applying these tools to assess and manage risks and liability for geologic carbon storage (GCS) at site and basin scales. They will also be used to promote their application for permitting and risk-related decision-making to enable safe and effective GCS commercial deployment.