Effects of pure and impure carbon dioxide (CO2) on soil chemistry

Wei, Yang (2013) Effects of pure and impure carbon dioxide (CO2) on soil chemistry. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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A cleaner use of fossil fuels supported by Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) techniques is considered to be one of the main short-term strategies for addressing the global climate change problem. However, potential CO2 or CO2/SO2 seepage during some of the phases of a CCS project not only reduces its performing efficiency, but also impacts the local environment, which could have further impacts on human health. It is therefore essential to assess the potential risks and provide evidence that the impacts are well understood. Moreover, studying the effects of CO2 leakage is useful for identifying monitoring parameters if the leakage does happen, leading to the development of new approaches in detecting CO2 leaks. Accordingly, this research is carried out to assess the relevant impacts on the local environment of CO2 leakage, focusing on the environmental impacts caused by CO2 seepage associated with various soil types, mostly on the soil geochemical changes, which is currently lacked.

As a cost effective approach, this research was carried out with two types of well controlled laboratory experiments: Stage I- Closed reactor experiments and Stage II- A flow through column system (designed by the author). As a supplementary study to the research of the ASGARD site, Stage I experiments were carried out with soil samples collected from the ASGARD site and gave directions for Stage II column system design. Stage II experiments were carried out with two contrasting mono-mineral sediments considering sensitivity to CO2 gas, Trucal 5 and Trucal 6 (limestone sand of different particle size) and silica sand.

Certain limitations of this research have to be considered. Firstly, highly idealised samples were used in the experiments instead of true soils and there was no heterogeneity in the samples used, which is not representative of the full complexity of a natural system. Secondly, the scale limitation of the laboratory work would lead to a higher gas/mineral ratio compared with field conditions. Therefore, results from the laboratory work cannot simply represent all the soils in the field, except the specific soil related problem and the results are better to be used to demonstrate the conditions where the soils/sediments are surrounded by high levels of CO2, such as the ones nearby a leaking injection well or along a fracture/fault. Nevertheless, this study is believed to provide a step towards understanding the potential impacts of CO2 seepage in soil, and potentially to be useful as a mean of identifying indicators of related problems when applying to the full-scale design, leading to the development of new approaches in detecting CO2 leaks.

Throughout the experiments, the experimental apparatus (the continuous column system) newly designed by the author was run successfully, providing an alternative way in respect to the majority of soil-column studies for assessing issues of CO2 seepage. The main impact of CO2 emissions on soil properties is to drop the pH which triggers metals mobilisation from soils (all within safety limits to plant growth). The change of pH associated with both limestone and silica sand indicates that pH is an excellent parameter to indicate the CO2 intrusion into sediments once the background is set. The response of calcium (Ca) to CO2 flux highlights that carbonate minerals are sensitive to CO2 increase and could possibly be used as a parameter to monitor CO2 leakage once the baseline for the pre-injection concentration is set.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Nathanail, C.P.
Maroto-Valer, M.
Steven, M.D.
Caramanna, G.
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Geography
Item ID: 10831
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2013 09:46
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016 03:41
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/10831

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