Assistant Professor Shaina Kelly Awarded the Provost’s Grants Program for Junior Faculty who Contribute to the Diversity Goals of the University Grant.

Jan 06 2023

Research Topic: Fluid trapping mechanisms within porous materials (rocks)

As atmospheric greenhouse gas levels continue to rise at alarming rates, climate
change has rendered the nexus between sustainable subsurface energy practices
and the environment more interconnected than ever before. Multiple studies have
illuminated the need for robust subsurface carbon storage practices to obtain the
requisite Gigaton-scale volumes of CO₂ mitigation. Leakage across fractures, caprock
seals, and at wellbores is currently a primary concern.

Kelly Lab characterizes and models transport in porous materials to advance game-
changing fluid and solute trapping (and controlled release) strategies for sustainable
energy practices. One of the lab’s major research themes is investigating CO₂
trapping mechanisms in geologic and engineered materials. CO₂ and other fluids
are primarily stored through four trapping mechanisms (physical/structural, capillary,
dissolution, and mineralization trapping) all of which exhibit spatial-temporal changes
throughout a porous material.

Project Goal: Optimizing geologic carbon storage capacity with pore-scale fluid flow

In this work, the group is specifically seeking innovative methods to link (1) Forward
Modeling of Pore-Scale Dynamics and (2) Experimental Porous Media and Multiphase
Flow Characterization to field-scale rapping metrics. This combination of models
with experiments will enable robust insights into the following primary Research
Questions: How do pore boundary conditions (BC), initial conditions (IC), fluid
properties, and system perturbations influence pore-scale trapping dynamics in key rock
types? Further, how do pore-scale trapping dynamics upscale into a reservoir
engineering framework suitable for geoscientists and engineers to screen potential
storage formations? This research, among others, is a step towards providing
consistent workflows for industrial-scale injection project approvals per the EPA
Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide Class VI Wells guidelines.  

See the offical annoucment Office of the Provost logo Junior Faculty Grants


Shaina Kelly joined the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering as an
assistant professor in July 2022. 
Kelly received her PhD from the University of Texas-Austin in 2015, and her BSc from
the University of Florida in 2011. 
Kelly and her research team work on submicron to subsurface characterization of
transport phenomena in porous media for sustainable energy applications. The
transport of fluid, mass, and heat in natural and engineered porous media will play a
critical role in the next frontier of sustainable energy practices, particularly subsurface
activities such as geologic carbon and H 2 storage and unconventional resource
recovery. The Kelly Lab’s research approach uses a combination of laboratory rock
core/sample analyses, microscopy, micro/nanofluidics, and computational fluid
dynamics (CFD) characterization methods to address the following overarching
research question: How do porous media heterogeneities (e.g., spatial changes in
micro- and macroscopic compositional fabric, pore types, and surface chemistry), fluid-
solid interactions, and unconventional properties (e.g., nano-confinement effects)
impact critical fluid storage and deliverability properties and levers? Prior to her
appointment, Shaina’s 6+ years of industry experience includes roles as Senior
Petrophysicist at ConocoPhllips Company and Senior Geoscience Engineer at
AquaNRG Consulting Inc. working on related research topics. 

Quantifying Pore-Scale CO₂ Trapping Mechanisms