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Convective carbon dioxide dissolution in a closed porous medium at low pressure

  • Baole Wen (a1), Daria Akhbari (a2), Li Zhang (a3) and Marc A. Hesse (a1) (a2)


Motivated by the persistence of natural carbon dioxide ( $\text{CO}_{2}$ ) fields, we investigate the convective dissolution of $\text{CO}_{2}$ at low pressure (below 1 MPa) in a closed system, where the pressure in the gas declines as convection proceeds. This introduces a negative feedback that reduces the convective dissolution rate even before the brine becomes saturated. We analyse the case of an ideal gas with a solubility given by Henry’s law, in the limits of very low and very high Rayleigh numbers. The equilibrium state in this system is determined by the dimensionless dissolution capacity, $\unicode[STIX]{x1D6F1}$ , which gives the fraction of the gas that can be dissolved into the underlying brine. Analytic approximations of the pure diffusion problem with $\unicode[STIX]{x1D6F1}>0$ show that the diffusive base state is no longer self-similar and that diffusive mass transfer declines rapidly with time. Direct numerical simulations at high Rayleigh numbers show that no constant flux regime exists for $\unicode[STIX]{x1D6F1}>0$ ; nevertheless, the quantity $F/C_{s}^{2}$ remains constant, where $F$ is the dissolution flux and $C_{s}$ is the dissolved concentration at the top of the domain. Simple mathematical models are developed to predict the evolution of $C_{s}$ and $F$ for high-Rayleigh-number convection in a closed system. The negative feedback that limits convection in closed systems may explain the persistence of natural $\text{CO}_{2}$ accumulations over millennial time scales.


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