Geological sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in depleted gas reservoirs represents a cost-effective solution to mitigate global carbon emissions. The surface chemistry of the reservoir rock, pressure, temperature, and moisture content are critical factors that determine the CO2 adsorption capacity and storage mechanisms. Shale-gas reservoirs are good candidates for this application. However, the interactions between CO2 and organic content still need further investigation. The objectives of this paper are to (i) experimentally evaluate the adsorption isotherm of CO2 on activated carbon, (ii) quantify the nanoscale interfacial interactions between CO2 and the activated carbon surface using Monte Carlo (MC) and molecular dynamic (MD) simulations, (iii) evaluate the modeling reliability using experimental measurements, and (iv) quantify the influence of temperature and geochemistry on the adsorption behavior of CO2 on the surface of activated carbon. These objectives aim at obtaining a better understanding of the behavior of CO2 injection and storage in the kerogen structure of shale-gas formations, where activated carbon is used as a proxy for thermally mature kerogen.

We performed experimental measurements, grand canonical Monte Carlo (GCMC) simulations, and MD simulations of CO2 adsorption and diffusion on activated carbon. The experimental work involved measurements of the high-pressure adsorption capacity of activated carbon using pure CO2 gas at a temperature of 300 K. The simulation work started with modeling and validating an activated carbon structure by calibrating the GCMC simulations with experimental CO2 adsorption measurements. Then, we extended the simulation work to quantify the adsorption isotherms at a temperature range of 250–500 K and various surface chemistry conditions. Moreover, CO2 self-diffusion coefficients were quantified at gas pressures of 0.5 MPa, 1 MPa, and 2 MPa using MD simulations.

The experimental results showed a typical CO2 excess adsorption trend for the nanoporous structures, with a density of the sorbed gas phase of 504.76 kg/m3. The simulation results were in agreement with experimental adsorption isotherms with a 10.6% average absolute relative difference. The self-diffusion results showed a decrease in gas diffusion with increasing pressure due to the increase in the adsorbed gas amount. Increasing the simulation temperature from 300 K to 400 K led to a decrease in the amount of adsorbed CO2 molecules by about 87% at 2 MPa pressure. Finally, the presence of charged functional groups (e.g., hydroxyl–OH and carboxyl–COOH) led to an increase in the adsorption of CO2 gas to the activated carbon surface. The outcomes of this paper provide new insights about the parameters affecting CO2 adsorption and sequestration in depleted shale-gas reservoirs. This in turn helps in screening the candidate shale-gas reservoirs for carbon capture, sequestration, and storage to maximize the CO2 storage capacity.

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