Big Rig and GREAT Cell (BIG)

Facility/equipment: Facility

    Equipments Details


    The GREAT Cell is designed to recreate subsurface conditions in the laboratory to a depth of 3.5 km on 200 mm diameter rock samples containing fracture networks.

    As the world looks to reduce CO2 emissions with help from the energy sector to tackle climate change, initiatives such as carbon capture and storage and energy storage technologies are meeting the challenge of providing reliable low carbon energy.

    Secure and sustainable utilisation of the subsurface for low carbon energy applications such as CO2 storage, geothermal energy and energy storage requires the ability to understand, predict and monitor the physical response of the geo-reservoirs and the surrounding rock mass to changes in:

    fluid pressure
    stress, temperature
    fluid composition
    biological activity

    These physical responses are often described as combinations of thermal (T), mechanical (M), hydraulic (H), chemical (C), and micro-biological processes (B). All of these processes are interdependent to some degree, with feedbacks and degrees of coupling among themselves that depend on the particular situation and technology under consideration.

    To investigate these processes and interactions relevant to industrial applications and geoenergy technologies, our GREAT Cell (Geo Reservoir Experimental Analogue Technology) has been designed and built in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University and the University of Göttingen.

    The GREAT Cell is designed to enable true triaxial experimental investigation of coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical processes in subsurface applications. It represents an important new development in experimental technology, by uniquely creating a truly polyaxial rotatable stress field, facilitating fluid flow through samples, and employing state of the art fibre optic strain sensing, capable of thousands of detailed measurements per hour.

    Contact details and access information for staff, students and visitors. We welcome scientific collaboration and are always happy to discuss new projects and experimental designs.

    For more information, please contact:

    Professor Christopher McDermott Chair in Hydrogeology and Coupled Process Modelling

    Telephone: +44 (0) 131 650 5931

    Dr Andrew Fraser Harris Postdoctoral Research Associate
    Telephone: +44 (0) 131 650 7526

    For technical support, please contact:
    Mr Alexander Lightbody GREAT Cell Technical Officer
    Telephone: +44 (0) 131 650 4920

    The GREAT Cell Laboratory is located within the School of GeoSciences, Kings Buildings campus, University of Edinburgh.


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