Fluid-rock Interactions
British Geological Survey
Keith Bateman

The BGS Hydrothermal Laboratory enables the study of chemical reactions between fluids and rocks under conditions found in the top few kilometres of the Earth's crust. In its 30+ years, it has been at the centre of numerous investigations that require well-controlled conditions to study reaction processes under in-situ conditions (i.e. elevated temperatures and pressures), and it is probably unique in the range of very different studies that have been investigated in the laboratory. Static (batch) and flow-through equipment are available in the laboratory, with useable volumes ranging from less than one millilitre to over ten litres. Much of the equipment can withstand high temperatures and pressures, with current standard operating conditions up to about 400°C and 500 bar. Although some equipment is 'off the shelf', numerous pieces are novel, having been specially developed for the laboratory. The experimental reaction products are characterised using a wide range of fluid chemical and mineralogical analytical techniques that are available within other dedicated laboratories at the BGS.

Specifications / Key Features
  • The lab contains equipment capable of maintaining controlled conditions for timescales of up to several years. Reactions are followed by visual observations, monitoring fluid chemical changes, and mineralogical analysis of the reaction products. Reactor volumes range from 1 ml to 12 litres, with variable pressure and temperature limitations.
  • Batch reactors
  • High pressure, windowed reactors for optical studies.
  • High pressure/temperature direct sampling batch reactors (Dickson-type autoclaves).
  • High pressure column reactors for flow-through studies.
  • Mixed flow reactors for reaction rate studies.
  • Fluidised bed reactors for low pressure reaction rate studies.
  • Pressure from atmospheric up to 500 bar, temperature range from 5°C to 500°C
  • More extreme conditions can be simulated with minor modifications
Example Projects
  • GEUS (Danish AquaCO₂ project)
    This was work undertaken on behalf of The geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) as part of the Danish ADUA_DK project to identify potential CCS sites in Denmark.
  • The CRIUS project (Carbon Research into Underground Storage)
    A consortium funded by NER, and involves scientists from the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester and Leeds and the British Geological Survey. The project is studying fluids and gasses from natural CO₂ reservoirs and from sites where CO₂ is being actively injected underground to:
    • Determine the rates of the mineral-water-CO₂ reactions in natural settings
    • Duplicate reactions in laboratory experiments
    • Study the processes under controlled conditions
    The ultimate objective is to inform site assessment, risk and monitoring for geological carbon storage operations.
  • CO₂CARE (CO₂ Site Closure Assessment Research)
    An EU FP7 project that aims to support the large-scale demonstration of CCS technology by addressing the research requirements of CO₂ storage site abandonment. The BGS Hydrothermal Laboratory is conducting long term experiments using samples of cap rock and borehole materials to study long-term integrity of a CCS site.

Hydrothermal vessels

Hydrothermal lab