Impact of Capillary Pressure Hysteresis and Injection/Withdrawal Schemes on Performance of Underground Hydrogen Storage

Farzaneh Nazari, Shokoufeh Aghabozorgi Nafchi, Ehsan Vahabzadeh Asbaghi, Rouhi Farajzadeh, Vahid J. Niasar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypothesis. Underground hydrogen storage in depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs and aquifers has been proposed as a potential long-term solution to storing intermittently produced renewable electricity, as the subsurface formations provide secure and large storage space. Various phenomena can lead to hydrogen loss in subsurface systems with the key cause being the trapping especially during the withdrawal cycle. Capillary trapping, in particular, is strongly related to the hysteresis phenomena observed in the capillary pressure/saturation and relative-permeability/saturation curves. This paper address two key points: (1) the sole impact of hysteresis in capillary pressure on hydrogen trapping during withdrawal cycles and (2) the dependency of optimal operational parameters (injection/withdrawal flow rate) and the reservoir characteristics, such as permeability, thickness and wettability of the porous medium, on the remaining hydrogen saturation.

Model. To study the capillary hysteresis during underground hydrogen storage, Killough [1] model was implemented in the MRST toolbox [2]. A comparative study was performed to quantify the impact of changes in capillary pressure behaviour by including and excluding the hysteresis and scanning curves. Additionally, this study investigates the impact of injection/withdrawal rates and
the aquifer permeability for various capillary and Bond numbers in a homogeneous system.

Findings. It was found that although the hydrogen storage efficiency is not considerably impacted by the inclusion of the capillary-pressure scanning curves, the impact of capillary pressure on the well properties (withdrawal rate and pressure) can become significant. Higher injection and withdrawal rates does not necessarily lead to a better performance in terms of productivity. The productivity enhancement depends on the competition between gravitational, capillary and viscous forces. The observed water upconing at relatively high capillary numbers resulted in low hydrogen productivity. highlighting the importance of well design and placement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1263-1280
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue numberPart D
Early online date4 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2024


  • Capillary Pressure Hysteresis
  • Underground hydrogen Storage
  • Scanning Curves
  • Numerical Simulation


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