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Cracking one of the deepest of problems Professor Ranjith PG is among leading researchers trying to assemble hard numbers and facts that will make geosequestration possible.

If you try to force too much water down a small plughole, it ends up going everywhere. ARC Future Fellow and Monash University Professor Ranjith Gamage has found the same principle holds true when pumping liquid carbon dioxide into rock deep underground. 'After you inject for a certain period, say six months, then you have to stop for a period of time - a few months to a few years - because the carbon dioxide needs time to diffuse and equilibrate. Otherwise you risk cracking the rock due to the pressure buildup.' What he's talking about has significant implications for geosequestration - preventing carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere by storing it underground. This strategy has become a key topic of consideration for governments around the world as they prepare to cope with climate change. And Ranjith has become one of the leading researchers trying to assemble hard numbers and facts on what geosequestration would involve. The concept is simple: capture flue gas from a coal-fired power station or cement plant; liquefy it; transport it to a hole drilled one or two kilometres into the earth; and inject it into a coal seam or saline aquifer that can store it and hold it for thousands upon thousands of years. If only it were so easy, says Ranjith, who is an expert in the movement of fluids through rock. First, you have to ensure that the gas stays put. The low density of carbon dioxide means that it will always rise, putting pressure on the rock above - the cap or sealing rock - which must have very low permeability and must not crack. Then, there's a question of economics. At a depth of one or two kilometres, each well costs between $20 and $50 million depending on the geological conditions. 'You cannot drill an infinite number of holes. So how much can you inject down any one hole becomes an important question. And that' where I'm focusing my work.' Ranjith's approach is a mix of experimental work and modelling. To assist, he has assembled the latest equipment into one of the most sophisticated testing facilities in the world. He needs to work at pressures which are several hundred times higher than those close to the surface, with rock samples 20 times larger than most existing pressure chambers can handle, and in temperatures of around of 50 degrees Celsius. He began by looking at unminable coal seams, which can absorb carbon dioxide while displacing methane. Now, with the help of the Future Fellowship he is broadening that work to study saline aquifers in sandstone. 'The fellowship has allowed me to work full-time on my research, which has accelerated my progress.' It has also enhanced his ability to collaborate with colleag

Keywords

  • Shale Gas
  • Coal Seam Gas
  • Co2 Sequestration
  • Deep Geothermal Energy

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Research Output 2000 2018

A macro-scale view of the influence of effective stress on carbon dioxide flow behaviour in coal: An experimental study

Ranathunga, A. S., Perera, M. S. A., Ranjith, P. G. & De Silva, G. P. D. 2017 In : Geomechanics and Geophysics for Geo-Energy and Geo-Resources. 3, 1, p. 13-28 16 p.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

A Mesh-Free Continuum Based Computational Approach to Modelling Rock Fracture

Wang, Y., Bui, H. H., Nguyen, G. D. & Ranjith, P. G. 2017 Poromechanics VI: Proceedings of the Sixth Biot Conference on Poromechanics, July 9-13, 2017, Paris, France. Vandamme, M., Dangla, P., Pereira, J-M. & Ghabezloo, S. (eds.). Reston, Virginia: American Society of Civil Engineers, p. 2041-2048 8 p.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewConference Paper

An analytical thermo-poro-elasticity model for the mechanical responses of a wellbore and core during overcoring

Wu, B., Gamage, R. P., Zhang, X., Jeffrey, R. G., Mills, K. & Wang, X. 1 Oct 2017 In : International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences. 98, p. 141-158 18 p.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

An experimental evaluation of unique CO2 flow behaviour in loosely held fine particles rich sandstone under deep reservoir conditions and influencing factors

De Silva, G. P. D., Ranjith, P. G., Perera, M. S. A., Dai, Z. & Yang, S. Q. 15 Jan 2017 In : Energy. 119, p. 121-137 17 p.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Activities 2011 2011

  • 1 Membership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

Engineers Australia (External organisation)

Pathegama Gamage, R. (Member)
15 Nov 201116 Aug 2015

Activity: Membership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board