Bureau of Economic Geology

Hydrogen Storage Potential in Salt Caverns: The Importance of Salt Tectonics

December 10, 2021 9:00 AM


Oliver Duffy, Ph.D.
Research Associate
Bureau of Economic Geology
The University of Texas at Austin


Access to hydrogen storage facilities that are safe, secure, strategically-located, and of sufficient scale will be key as we expand the reach of a hydrogen economy. Salt cavern storage is a proven method of storing hydrogen in the subsurface that is likely to play an important role over the coming decades. In Texas, the potential for hydrogen storage in onshore salt is vast given that: i) a large volume of salt is contained in Gulf Coast salt domes and in the Permian Basin; ii) three hydrogen salt dome storage sites already exist and have proven viable within the Texas Gulf Coast region; and iii) a significant volume of salt is located close to critical markets and infrastructure such as pipelines, natural gas supply, and potential sites for CO2 sequestration. In this work we focus on two themes. First, we explore the feasibility of large-scale hydrogen storage within onshore Texas salt by assessing which parts of Texas are best suited to salt cavern hydrogen storage and why. In particular, we integrate geological principles and a GIS- based mapping approach to understand the distribution of salt types and how this relates to the location of critical infrastructure. Second, we focus more generally on salt tectonic aspects that may influence hydrogen storage potential, namely, how does heterogeneity within salt domes develop and how may it influence the suitability of a salt dome for hydrogen storage? We end by outlining potential research themes and questions that we hope may stimulate new research collaborations across the BEG.

Oliver Duffy

University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas

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