Impact of hydrogen on underground reservoir properties: Laboratory characterisation at reservoir conditions

June 16th, 2022

R&D Focus Areas:
Underground storage, Natural hydrogen, Compressed gas

Lead Organisation:

Curtin University and Edith Cowan University


Start date:
January 2021

Completion date:
July 2022

Key contacts:
Joel Sarout – Rock Properties Team Leader –
Lionel Esteban – Principal Research Scientist –
Ausama Giwelli – Senior Research Scientist –

AUD$366,000 – CSIRO Future Science Platform – Hydrogen Energy System
AUD$475,000 – CSIRO Energy Business Unit

 Project total cost:
AUD$841,000 – Combined cash and in-kind contribution

 Project summary description:
Large-scale production and use of hydrogen requires significant amounts of storage (terawatt-hours) to cope with seasonal fluctuations in demand (and variable supply in the case of renewables).

Underground storage of hydrogen (UHS) is a leading option for reasons of cost and safety. However, hydrogen interactions with reservoir rocks, sealing rocks, residual gas and its mobility in various underground conditions remain poorly understood in Geosciences. Thus, over the period from the start of 2021 to mid-2022, CSIRO’s Rock Properties research team and the Geomechanics & Geophysics Laboratory (Energy BU) initiated a research project to explore the feasibility of UHS.

Part of this endeavour is to develop new hydrogen laboratory capabilities to investigate the following:

  • Static hydrogen exposure of reservoir rocks under realistic in-situ conditions using in-house designed and fit-for-purpose pressure vessels. The aim of this laboratory test is to quantify the impact of hydrogen gas on the micro-structure and the chemico-physical properties of the rocks over time. An integrated suite of multi-disciplinary tools was deployed to characterise this impact in practical engineering terms, before and after hydrogen exposure. This includes petrophysical properties (wettability, porosity, permeability, pore connectivity), mechanical strength, elastic properties, rock microstructure through multi-scale imaging (SEM-TIMA, Micro-CT), mineralogical and geochemical properties (XRD, fluid chemistry, surface reactivity).
  • Hydrogen dynamic monitoring under in-situ reservoir conditions. Hydrogen mobility inside the rock is tracked using advanced Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) core flooding to understand the wettability and fluid substitutions (saturation gradient, drainage, and imbibition mechanisms), with respect to hydrogen-rock interaction and pore size distribution along the sample. Porosity and permeability were also measured before and after testing.

Related publications and key links:
Journal articles:

  • Iglauer, S., H. Akhondzadeh, H. Abid, A. Paluszny, A. Keshavarz, M. Ali, A. Giwelli, L. Esteban, J. Sarout, and M. Lebedev. “Hydrogen flooding of a coal core: effect on coal swelling.” Geophysical Research Letters49, no. 6 (2022): e2021GL096873.
  • Yekeen, N., A. Al-Yaseri, B. Mamo Negash, M. Ali, A. Giwelli, L. Esteban, and J. Sarout. “Clay-hydrogen and clay-cushion gas interfacial tensions: Implications for hydrogen storage.” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy(2022).
  • Al-Yaseri, A., N. Yekeen, M. Mahmoud, A. Kakati, Q. Xie, and A. Giwelli. “Thermodynamic characterization of H2-brine-shale wettability: Implications for hydrogen storage at subsurface.” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy(2022).
  • Al-Yaseri, A., L. Esteban, A. Giwelli, J. Sarout, M. Lebedev, and M. Sarmadivaleh. “Initial and residual trapping of hydrogen and nitrogen in Fontainebleau sandstone using nuclear magnetic resonance core flooding.” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy(2022).

CSIRO website:

Higher degree studies supported:
Top-Up Scholarship for a PhD student co-supervised with Edith Cowan University


June 2022