University of Nottingham

What is the Purpose and Research Interests of the GTB?

GERC has developed the GeoEnergy Test Bed (GTB); a field laboratory for studying underground fluid movement in porous reservoir rocks and lower permeability seal rocks through field tests and experiments on rock samples extracted from the GTB. The GTB provides designated facilities to test, develop and validate sensors and fluid flow simulation software to develop a range of new monitoring technologies applicable to a number of subsurface industries. The site is fully instrumented with surface and down-hole monitoring sensors. Each well will be continuously monitored with the sensors sending data to an onsite control centre.

The GTB is a result of over five years’ planning and development from UoN and BGS scientists and engineers. As an Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) facility, it is intended to be a UK National Facility providing a valuable resource through which new sensor technologies and simulation software can be developed. 

Research Interest Areas for the GTB:

  • Gas monitoring; migration, attenuation and remediation
  • Geophysical data collection including micro-seismic monitoring
  • Gas emission soil and atmospheric monitoring
  • Next generation quantum gravity sensors
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) downhole and surface gas monitoring
  • VOC fingerprinting

The above as stated on the Energy Research Accelerator website



What is the Purpose of the GTB?

The need to address the global energy trilemma of sustainability, security and affordability is a well-known, and now urgent challenge. In November 2015 the UK government announced a £60 million investment, leveraged by a further £120m industry investment (£180m total), for the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) intended to enable research to transform the UK’s energy sector. The GTB is a key facility within ERA.

The aim of the GTB is to advance geoscientific research to support the global need for secure, sustainable and safe energy. The GTB will provide the capacity to investigate subsurface activities relevant to geoenergy, to aid the development of affordable low carbon energy and technologies, in a safe and well-understood facility. The GTB will enable the development and testing of innovative monitoring technologies, with scientific experiments to understand the in situ mechanisms, rates and interactions of fluid migrating through natural pathways in the subsurface. The results will be of interest to a wide range of subsurface monitoring and energy industries.

The research and understanding the GTB will provide will help to drive environmental protection for the subsurface, ensuring it remains a priority for all relevant geoenergy activities.

The GTB has the following specific deliverables:

  1. Understanding fluid interactions within shallow fluid-rock systems
  2. Testing and developing sensor technologies
  3. Developing and validating fluid flow simulation software 

Testing and Developing Remote Sensing Technologies

The GTB provides a unique facility on which to deploy and improve the prototypes of next-generation sensor technologies:

  • Advanced optical, electrical  and acoustic sensor technologies for monitoring the subsurface
  • Controlled airborne platform earth observation technology to study large areas of interest

Developing Modelling Software

A significant resource will be created in the form of large datasets relating specifically to reservoir fluid flow, geochemistry and geophysical data. The geological data will be curated and made available to the UK academic community and industry by BGS, as part of their national geoscience capability role. Data collected from the GTB will be used for the development and validation of advanced fluid flow and reservoir simulation software, in partnership with Schlumberger. 



New Science

The sensing capability at GTB has been designed by the British Geological Survey to enable interrogation of the subsurface in 4D, and to a level of detail commensurate with energy processes in the subsurface (e.g. fluid flow). In combination with laboratory experiments carried out of rock samples extracted from the site, the GTB will help us understand rock-fluid interactions and the characterisation of complex subsurface systems at field scale. It will enable testing and deployment of new geophysical techniques that give us high resolution data to describe subsurface geology and rock-fluid interactions in the shallow subsurface, and enable validation and development of more advanced reservoir simulation software.

Impact from the GTB

The research that is possible on the GTB supports a global need for secure, sustainable and safe energy and will accelerate the development of sensor technologies and advanced simulation software to underpin industries that will deliver low carbon energy solutions. This will, ultimately, significantly lower operational and capital costs for several geoenergy sectors and create a wealth of new opportunities for UK businesses. Training the next generation of engineers and scientists will be essential to success, and the GTB will provide a unique opportunity for students, researchers and industry to work side-by-side.




Glossary of Terms

Fault: A fracture/weakness through a layer or continuous layers of rock, usually near-vertical in orientation. Faults can be confined to one layer of rock or can extend for kilometres. Faults occur naturally due to larger-scale movements in the subsurface over geological timescales 

Fluid: Any gas or liquid (e.g. air, water, CO2, that can flow through the connected pore spaces)

In situ: In its natural position

Permeability: A measure of how easily fluids can pass through the rock. If the pore spaces are well-connected, so that fluid can flow easily through the rock, the rock is said to have a high permeability

Porosity: The tiny spaces between the mineral/solid grains in the rock, or material, are called pore spaces. Porosity is a measure of the volume of the pore space so a higher porosity means that the volume of pore spaces is relatively large

Subsurface: Located beneath the earth’s surface

Frequently Asked Questions 

What planning permission was required for the GTB?
The permitted Planning Application for the GTB is available to view on the Rushcliffe Borough Council website
What is happening next at the GTB?
You can keep up-to-date with the progress of the GTB on our GTB Progress page


If you would like to submit a question regarding the GTB please use our contact form. Thank you.  

GeoEnergy Research Centre