UW Researchers Publish Study on Geological Hydrogen Storage

Ehsan Dabbaghi, Kam Ng, Tyler Brown and Ying YuA collaborative study on hydrogen storage from researchers in the University of Wyoming’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the School of Energy Resources (SER) yielded a publication in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

The article, titled “Experimental study on the effect of hydrogen on the mechanical properties of Hulett sandstone,” was written by Ph.D. student Ehsan Dabbaghi in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management. The research was under the supervision of Kam Ng, the Provost’s Term Professor and Hoy Engineering Fellow in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management.

Additional authors of the study are SER research professionals Tyler Brown and Ying Yu in the Center for Economic Geology Research to provide geological and reservoir expertise.

“Hydrogen is a very versatile energy source that can transformed, moved and stored for later use, but current storage options present challenges that need to be better understood,” Ng says. “Geological storage is an efficient and low-cost option for storing large volumes of hydrogen, but we need to better understand how it will behave and interact in the potential storage formations. Our multidisciplinary team conducted this study to better understand the geochemical interactions that can occur in a Wyoming formation.”

The study investigated the effect of hydrogen treatment on the mechanical properties of sandstone samples from the Hulett member of the Sundance Formation, a potential underground hydrogen storage host in Wyoming.

By treating core samples with different saturations and mixtures of saline brine and hydrogen, the team then measured the effects in the mechanical strength, compression and composition of the rock.

Overall, the researchers concluded that, with increased volumes of hydrogen, there was a higher frequency of geochemical interactions and a reduction in rock strength.

“This pioneering study is very important because it will aid future researchers in understanding the interrelated nature of geochemistry and a rock’s mechanical strength and help with identifying the optimal conditions for underground hydrogen storage,” Ng adds.

Funding for the study was made possible by SER’s Hydrogen Energy Research Center (H2ERC) and is the direct result of the “Hydrogen: Make, Move, Use or Store” initiative that supported UW faculty-led projects investigating topics across all levels of the hydrogen supply chain.

“We are so pleased to see the investment made in faculty research is yielding positive results and increasing knowledge in this topic area,” H2ERC Director Eugene Holubnyak says. “A fundamental principle at SER is to leverage the existing expertise on campus, and this is an ideal example of how supporting our local specialists can move the needle forward in advancing a new industry. We hope that this will lay the foundation for future funding opportunities or collaborations on related projects.”  

The full article can be downloaded here, or a research brief summary, along with other information on the project, can be found on the H2ERC website.

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