School of GeoSciences

GREAT Cell Laboratory

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 the GREAT Cell Laboratory

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.

Equipment and sample preparation

Find out more about the GREAT Cell technology and equipment capabilities. We have also provided information on sample preparation and synthetic samples.

GREAT Cell research outputs and funding

Our laboratory has played an integral part of a wide range of industry and research council funded projects, leading to high impact academic papers, books and conference proceedings.