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Tomos Phillips

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The progress of climate change necessitates a transition to a low-carbon economy, where such an economy requires the replacement of carbon-intensive fuels with lower carbon intensity fuels coupled with the geological storage of anthropogenic gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon capture and storage (CCS) represents a viable and proven technology to prevent further CO2 emissions reaching the atmosphere. The efficacy of storing CO2 within geological repositories is greatly dependent upon the sealing properties of the overlying rock(s).

My research focuses upon naturally occurring faults and fractures within a wide range of sealing rocks, and their role in transporting multiple fluids. To further understand the transport properties of fractures across a range of length-scales (millimetres to kilometres), the hierarchical features governing fluid flow dynamics must be investigated and quantified. An important topic is the understanding of the coupling between stress and ease of flow within fractures that display different mineralogy and spatial characteristics, such as aperture distribution, tortuosity or angle to bedding and surface roughness.

My PhD is a dual research project shared between Ghent University (Belgium) and Heriot-Watt University (UK), where I am utilising various experimental and numerical methods to identify the dominant parameters exerting influences on fracture flow. I utilise 3D printing, photogrammetric microscopy and X-ray (micro) computed tomography to visualise how multiple fluids behave and interact with one another on the micron scale. Results obtained from such studies are used to benchmark upscaled fracture flow models, which aim to predict subsurface flow through fractures to compliment general risk assessment associated with subsurface storage.

Selected Publications

Phillips, T., Kampman, N., Bisdom, K., Forbes Inskip, N.D., den Hartog, S.A.M., Cnudde, V and Busch, A., 2020. Controls on the intrinsic flow properties of mudrock fractures: A review of their importance in subsurface storage. Earth Science Reviews: 103390. DOI

Contact: Tomos Phillips