Abstract

The anticipated prevalence of salt caverns for hydrogen storage makes it increasingly important to establish good numerical modelling techniques to simulate cavern behaviour. This involves many modelling aspects to be addressed including a proper representation of the particular material characteristics of salt and a recognition of the importance of cavern geometry. In this paper we demonstrate a 3-D finite element modelling methodology for simulating salt caverns under the type of cyclic loading expected from seasonal hydrogen production and retrieval. 3-D modelling offers the possibility to represent more complex cavern geometry than is usually represented in such work. The simulations represent generic scenarios but are used to investigate the effect of cavern geometry and variations in model size and boundary conditions. We make use of the recent constitutive model advanced by Reedlunn et al., 2022 which includes an allowance for pressure solution effects contributing to creep, and show that this can have a significant effect on cavern closure.

Introduction

Hydrogen is widely expected to play a major part in the migration away from a carbon-based energy economy and demand for high volume storage solutions is likely to grow considerably in the near future. The use of salt caverns is among the storage methods attracting the most attention.

Salt caverns are subterranean voids in domal or bedded salt formations, usually created artificially by a process of leaching. They are well suited for hydrogen storage because they can offer large capacity, rapid injection/withdrawal rates, safety advantages and long term cost effectiveness. In addition the technology is proven – such caverns being widely used over many years for the storage of other substances and more recently in limited numbers for hydrogen.

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