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Note: Image above shows Micro-CT (computerised tomography) is a technique where the pore-scale structure of sandstone can be imaged to understand how hydrogen would be stored and flow through rock, and also which minerals are present in the rock and how they may react with hydrogen.
British Geological Survey
British Geological Survey:
Dr Simon Gregory
Dr Richard Haslam
Dr Chris Rochelle
Dr Jeremy Rushton
University of Manchester:
Prof Kevin Taylor
Dr Lin Ma
Although gas storage is commercially undertaken in engineered caverns in halite, this is only possible in certain areas of the UK where there are suitable beds of halite (Cheshire, Teesside, Lancashire). For other areas of the UK, alternative storage options in porous/ fractured bedrock need to be identified. However, there is an urgent need to understand the behaviour of these rocks when acting as storage volumes for hydrogen, and the impacts of pumping and multiple storage cycles on the effectiveness and efficiency of this important future energy need. This project uses a bespoke laboratory set-up to understand the behaviour of sandstone and cement in hydrogen-rich environments, at elevated temperatures and pressures (50 degrees C and 150 bar). Cutting-edge detailed micro-computerised tomography (micro-CT) imaging of rock samples is being undertaken by the University of Manchester. These will provide the industry with clear and reliable information for potential host rocks for hydrogen storage. In addition, by combining this information with geological datasets, our project will provide the industry with maps showing where the storage of hydrogen in the sub-surface may be viable.
Rocks such as sandstone above contain a natural pore space that could be used to store hydrogen, but questions remain concerning the potential for geochemical or microbial reactions within the rock.
This project is highly innovative as it allows rocks to be exposed to hydrogen at elevated temperatures and pressures that may be experienced in the subsurface. Coupled with a host of analytical techniques including microCT, we are assessing the effect that stored hydrogen may have on a series of rock samples from the Triassic Sherwood Sandstone and Cretaceous Lower Greensand- both potential storage units.
Sandstone sample from UKGEOS A101 Borehole (SJ47NE/141): 78.00 – 78.06 m: Chester Formation (SSG)
A sand grain coated by a layer of diagenetically formed webbed-platy chlorite-smectite, with emergent ‘micro-towers’ of potassium feldspar overgrowth. Chlorite-smectite is a swelling clay and is also present in a flattened form at some grain-grain contacts (e.g. top left), so changes in its volume could affect the integrity of the sandstone. It is important to assess if this potential damage mechanism is relevant to hydrogen storage in this formation.
This project is relevant to many industrial clusters where large-scale storage of hydrogen is required but not possible in solution-mined caverns. The Sherwood Sandstone is present at depth under much of England; The Lower Greensand is present in south-east England, near several large population centres, and remote from obvious cavern-storage opportunities.
Congratulations to Heather Braid a student at the University of Manchester, who presented the attached poster as part of the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association 2022 annual conference “Hydrogen Scotland” where she was awarded 2nd place in the Student poster competition.