Underground hydrogen storage: The microbiotic influence on rock wettability

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Energy Storage




Centre for Sustainable Energy and Resources / School of Engineering,


Australian Research Council

Grant Number

ARC Number : DP220102907


Ali, M., Arif, M., Sedev, R., Sánchez-Román, M., Keshavarz, A., & Iglauer, S. (2023). Underground hydrogen storage: The microbiotic influence on rock wettability. Journal of Energy Storage, 72, article 108405. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.est.2023.108405


Hydrogen geo-storage could be the large-scale solution needed for a hydrogen economy. Biological factors have been considered but mainly in terms of hydrogen-metabolising microbes. We demonstrate consistently the direct influence of underground biofilm formation on the wettability of sandstone reservoirs. The biofilm, formed by incubation with cyanobacteria Geitlerinema sp. in seawater, increases the advancing and receding brine contact angles on water-wet quartz. The angles decrease only slightly on oil-wet quartz surfaces even though biomass accumulation is more significant. We formulate an explanation using Cassie’s approach to heterogeneous surfaces, taking into account the predominant surface chemical groups. Wettability strongly affects the distribution, trapping and mobility of phases (brine and hydrogen) inside the rock formation. Our results, obtained at typical reservoir conditions (25–50 ◦C, 3–130 bar), are relevant to understanding and assessing hydrogen injectivity, withdrawal rates, storage capacity and containment security. This fundamental research supports the development of an industrial-scale decarbonized hydrogen economy.



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