Potential CO2 Leakage Reduction through Biofilm-Induced Calcium Carbonate Precipitation

Adrienne J. Phillipsa, Ellen Lauchnor, Joe Eldring, Richard Esposito, Andrew Charles Mitchell, Robin Gerlach, Alfred B. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Citations (SciVal)


Mitigation strategies for sealing high permeability regions in cap rocks, such as fractures or improperly abandoned wells, are important considerations in the long term security of geologically stored carbon dioxide (CO2). Sealing technologies using low-viscosity fluids are advantageous in this context since they potentially reduce the necessary injection pressures and increase the radius of influence around injection wells. Using aqueous solutions and suspensions that can effectively promote microbially induced mineral precipitation is one such technology. Here we describe a strategy to homogenously distribute biofilm-induced calcium carbonate (CaCO3) precipitates in a 61 cm long sand-filled column and to seal a hydraulically fractured, 74 cm diameter Boyles Sandstone core. Sporosarcina pasteurii biofilms were established and an injection strategy developed to optimize CaCO3 precipitation induced via microbial urea hydrolysis. Over the duration of the experiments, permeability decreased between 2 and 4 orders of magnitude in sand column and fractured core experiments, respectively. Additionally, after fracture sealing, the sandstone core withstood three times higher well bore pressure than during the initial fracturing event, which occurred prior to biofilm-induced CaCO3 mineralization. These studies suggest biofilm-induced CaCO3 precipitation technologies may potentially seal and strengthen fractures to mitigate CO2 leakage potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2012


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