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Chemical tracers

NGL's cutting-edge chemical tracers research is used to determine what the right tracer chemicals are for working with CO2, in what amounts and under what circumstances.

Chemical tracers

Chemical tracers can be used to help detect and monitor CO2 in commercial-scale carbon storage projects.

NGL’s chemical tracer facilities can test the partitioning and sediment sorption properties in the water phases and the gas (or supercritical) phase under reservoir conditions.

The equipment includes high-pressure and high-temperature fluid vessels for measuring partition coefficients and a high-pressure and high-temperature slim tube setup for determining the transport properties under reservoir conditions. The slim tube setup can also be used to ascertain the extent of adsorption onto sediment surfaces. Both systems have appropriate sampling systems for acquiring both gas and liquid phase chemical tracers under high-pressure and high-temperature conditions.

The facilities complement NGL’s geochemistry capabilities for implementing and conducting field deployments of chemical tracers.



Australian Resources Research Centre, Kensington, Perth


Linda Stalker

CCS applications

Chemical tracers are potentially very useful for studying and monitoring the subsurface transport of CO2 (either within the reservoir, reservoir to overlying aquifer or reservoir to the surface) in commercial-scale carbon storage projects. Chemical tracers have one major caveat and that is only the transport of the tracer can be directly measured.  With possibility that the transport of the chemical tracers may differ significantly from the transport of CO2, it is important understand the transport of CO2 relative to the tracers. Fluid phase partition coefficients and adsorption equilibrium coefficients are used to quantifiably compare the subsurface behaviour of the chemical tracers and reservoir CO2/water.

The currently available data for chemical tracers used in carbon storage projects is not exhaustive and not tailored to site-specific injection conditions (i.e. pressure, temperature, salinity, rock). To date, scientists have relied on existing data that may not be relevant to the subsurface environment in these computational models. NGL has the experimental capability and experience to conduct research to determine which chemical tracers to use, in what amounts and under what circumstances (e.g. pressure, temperature, salinity, mineral composition). This involves conducting laboratory experiments under reservoir conditions which is then complemented with computational simulations that incorporate the properties determined in the laboratory.

Other applications

Research into chemical tracers can also be applied to the oil and gas industry. This research can be specifically applied to enhanced oil recovery for the single well chemical tracer test to determine residual oil saturation. Furthermore, it can be applied intra-well and inter-well connectivity studies using chemical tracers.

Example Equipment

  • Batch reactor
  • Slim tube


  • Myers, M., White, C., Stalker, L., Pejcic, B. (2014). Temperature sensitivity of reactive seter tracers for measuring CO2 residual trapping capacity. Chemical Geology. In press.
  • Myers, M., Stalker, L., La Force, T., Pejcic, B., Dyt, C., Ho, KB (2014). Field measurements of residual carbon dioxide saturation using reactive ester tracers. Chemical Geology. In Press.
  • Rauh, F., Schwenk, M., Pejcic, B., Myers, M., Ho, KB., Stalker, L., Mizaikoff, B (2014). A mid-infrared sensor for the determination of perfluorocarbon-based compounds in aquatic systems for geosequestration purposes.Talanta 130: 527-535.
  • Myers, M., Stalker, L., Ross, A., Dyt, C., Ho, KB (2012). Method for the determination of residual carbon dioxide saturation using reactive ester tracers. Applied Geochemistry 27: 2148-2156.
  • Myers, M., Stalker, L., Pejcic, B., Ross, A. (2013). Tracers – Past, present and future applications in CO2 geosequestration. Applied Geochemistry 30: 125-135.
  • Stalker, L., Boreham, C. J., Underschultz, J., Freifeld, B., Perkins, E., and Sharma, S. (2009). “Geochemical Monitoring at the CO2CRC Otway Project: Tracer Injection and Reservoir Fluid Acquisition ” Energy Procedia 1(1): 2119-2125.
  • Stalker, L., Boreham, C. B., Perkins, E. (2009). A review of tracers in monitoring CO2 breakthrough: properties, uses, case studies and novel tracers. . Carbon Dioxide Sequestration in Geological Media. J. C. P. M.Grobe, and R.L. Dodge, AAPG Special Publication: 595-608.
Australian Government Department of Education CSIRO The University of Western Australia Curtin University Western Australian Energy Research Alliance