Vortex Energy and the University of Alberta Researching Long-Term Hydrogen Storage in Salt Caverns

May 2, 2024
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, salt is an excellent substance for storing gas and liquid, with a long track record of success with fossil fuel storage

Vortex Energy is set to receive $1.2 million in funding from the Government of Alberta through Alberta Innovates for its latest project - the Field Trial of Hydrogen Storage in Canadian Domal and Bedded Salts. 

The project will be conducted in collaboration with the University of Alberta and Keyera Corporation. This effort will allow the University to advance its current fundamental research into hydrogen-rock interactions by developing protocols and guidelines to optimize location, design specifications, and operational parameters for hydrogen storage in salt caverns.

To achieve this, the University researchers will conduct proof-of-concept experiments on core samples and simulation studies to identify and develop solutions for challenges related to stored hydrogen containment and contamination. 

To store hydrogen in salt caverns, engineers drill through rock layers to reach naturally occurring salt domes deep in the earth. Then, fresh water is used to dissolve the salt to create a space with the necessary volume required to store hydrogen for the long term

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, salt is an excellent substance for storing gas and liquid, and it has a long track record of success with fossil fuel storage. The caverns that are developed in the salt provide a resilient, protected, leak-proof reservoir for injecting, storing, and delivering fuels such as hydrogen. 

The University's findings are expected to assist in developing a multi-physics model to predict hydrogen transport and reactions in the caverns proposed to be developed at the Robinsons River Salt Project in Newfoundland at functions of temperature, pressure, in-situ stress, rock fabric and composition, and storage operational parameters. 

As part of the collaboration, Vortex will provide the University with data, resources, and core samples from the Robinsons River Salt Project. In return, the University has agreed to perform laboratory and mathematical analyses with the intent of designing and implementing the first field trial of hydrogen storage in a domal salt in Canada at the Robinsons River Salt Project. 

The University of Alberta will have 24 months to complete the portions of the project that are being funded by Alberta Innovates. 

About the Author

Breanna Sandridge, Senior Editor

Breanna Sandridge is senior editor for EnergyTech and Microgrid Knowledge, both part of the energy group at Endeavor Business Media.

Prior to that, Breanna was managing editor for Machinery Lubrication and Reliable Plant magazines, both part of Noria Corp. She has two years experience covering the industrial sector.

She also is a 2021 graduate of Northeastern State University (Oklahoma) with a Bachelor's in English.