TPRL - Transport Properties Research Laboratory

Facility Location
City & country
Keyworth (United Kingdom)
Nicker Hill, Keyworth, Nottingham NG12 5GG, Regno Unito
Description & contacts of the access provider
Legal name of organisation
BGS - British Geological Survey, Natural Environment Research Council
Infrastructure contact - Primary contact
Caroline Graham
RICC contact - Secondary contact
Keith Bateman
Facility Availability
Unit of access
Availability per year
Min 1 month
Expected duration of single experiment:
1 month minimum
Operational or other constraints
Specific risks:
All risks associated with operating laboratory equipment are covered in the TPRL working protocols and associated risk assessments which are provided to laboratory users.

Focus is on multi-phase flow in natural and engineered, low and ultra-low permeability geomaterials (e.g. caprocks, well bore cements, halite and engineered clays), and their associated deformation behaviour. Measurements include: saturation and consolidation properties; intrinsic permeability (or transmissivity); anisotropy; specific storage; coupled flow parameters (e.g. osmotic permeability); capillary entry, breakthrough and threshold pressures; gas permeability function; drained and undrained compressibilities; and rheological (creep) properties. Laboratory experiments are performed under simulated in situ conditions (stress, pore pressure, temperature and chemical environment). Three key areas explored are: (i) baseline characterisation of hydromechanical properties, (ii) influence of stress path and stress history on transport properties and (iii) transmissivity of fractures, faults and discontinuities (e.g., wellbore interfaces). Tests are designed to provide quantitative data for mathematical modelling of ultra-low permeability materials, together with process understanding of key transport mechanisms. Key equipment includes: high pressure isotropic permeameters (70 MPa); constant volume permeameters (70 MPa); high pressure triaxial permeameter (70 MPa); heavy-duty, high-precision shear-rigs; high temperature, high pressure geochemical flow reactor (130 MPa at 140°C); and novel tracer systems (nano particle injection or radiological tagging of gas) to characterise and identify potential migration pathways.

State of the art, uniqueness, & specific advantages

The TPRL is one of the leading centres in Europe for the study of fluid movement in ultra-low permeability media. The facility is well known within the radioactive waste disposal and carbon capture and storage sectors for high quality experimental work and process-based interpretation. Unique BGS-manufactured equipment and experimental systems provide high-resolution and high accuracy data. Physical properties are routinely examined in ultra-low permeability materials (~1x10-22 m2 and lower). Capability in deformation and fluid flow relevant to CCS consists of a blend of standard and bespoke equipment with more than 15 experimental rigs. These allow stress states and temperature to be simulated across expected in situ reservoir conditions. Tests can be conducted with pure water, brine, helium, carbon dioxide (gaseous, liquid, super critical and saturated solution) and nitrogen. Data is collected using a state-of-the-art National Instrument logging system and tests can be monitored and operated by remote control online.

Scientific Environment

The TPRL has a long track-record of involvement in many national (NERC, EPSRC, government) and international collaborative projects, working with academics and operators across Europe, Canada and Asia (including RWML, SKB, Nagra, Andra, JAEA, NWMO, COVRA; Shell, Statoil, KPN, BP etc.). The laboratory operators have a wide-reaching scientific impact, coordinating large-scale projects and publishing widely as a result. Complimentary services available to the laboratory include sample preparation, geotechnical characterisation, thin section preparation and petrological/microstructural analysis.


Other EC DG Research
Other Large Initiatives

selected publications

Cuss, R.J., Milodowski, A. & Harrington, J.F. (2011)
Fracture transmissivity as a function of normal and shear stress: First results in Opalinus Clay
Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 36, 1960-1971.
Cuss, R.J., Harrington, J.F., Graham, C.C., and Noy, D.J. (2014)
Observations of Pore Pressure in Clay-rich Materials; Implications for the Concept of Effective Stress Applied to Unconventional Hydrocarbons. European Geosciences Union General Assembly
EGU Division Energy, Resources & the Environment (ERE). Energy Procedia, 59, pp.59-66; doi:10.1016/j.egypro.2014.10.349
Cuss, R.J., Harrington, J.F., Noy, D.J., Graham, C.C., and Sellin, P. (In review) (14 October 2014)
Evidence of localised gas propagation pathways in a field-scale bentonite engineered barrier system; results from three gas injection tests in the Large scale gas injection test (Lasgit)
Applied Clay Science, 102, pp.81-92, doi:10.1016/j.clay.2014.10.14
Cuss, R.J., Harrington, J.F., Sathar, S., and Norris, S. (2015)
An experimental study of the flow of gas along faults of varying orientation to the stress-field; Implications for performance assessment of radioactive waste disposal
Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth. 120, pp.3932-3945, doi:10.1002/2014JB011333
Graham, C.C., Harrington, J.F., Cuss, R.J., and Sellin, P. (2014)
Pore-pressure cycling experiments on Mx80 bentonite
In: Norris, S., Bruno, J., Cathelineau, M., Delage, P., Fairhurst, C., Gaucher, E. C., Höhn, E. H., Kalinichev, A., Lalieux, P. & Sellin, P. (eds) Clays in Natural and Engineered Barriers for Radioactive Waste Confinement. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 400, doi: 10.1144/SP400.32.
Harrington, J.F. & Horseman, S.T. (1999)
Gas transport properties of clays and mudrocks. In: Muds And Mudstones: Physical And Fluid Flow Properties (eds A.C.Aplin, A.J. Fleet, and J.H.S. Macquaker)
Geological Society of London, Special Publication No. 158, 107–124.
Harrington, J.F., Noy, D.J., Horseman, S.T., Birchall, J.D. and Chadwick, R.A (2009)
Laboratory study of gas and water flow in the Nordland Shale, Sleipner, North Sea. in M. Grobe, J. C. Pashin, and R. L. Dodge, eds.
Carbon dioxide sequestration in geological media—State of the science: AAPG Studies in Geology 59, p. 521– 543.