In a new study published by the journal Science a team of scientists working at the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Iceland have found a new way of storing CO2: Make rocks out of it.
Scientists say they have successfully found a way to permanently sequester CO2 as a means of combatting climate change. This innovation also has implications for keeping the temperature increase under the 3.7 degree fahrenheit mark science is trying to avoid.
First, they turn gaseous CO2 into a liquid solution, which consists of 5 percent CO2 and 95 percent saltwater, then they pump the mix deep into the ocean where the mix reacts with basalt rocks. Once the reaction takes place, the mix then creates veins of CO2 trapped in the basalt — which are picked because their chemical makeup of calcium, magnesium and iron is ideal for this.
Another reason basalt rocks are ideal is because they “are found on roughly 10 percent of Earth’s land, and make up a very large part of the ocean.” Edda Aradottir, who heads the CarbFix project for Reykjavik Energy, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The scientists were able to pump 220 tons of the CO2 mix into the basalt and had 95 percent of it turn into stone. The reason there was ‘only’ a 95 percent success rate was “simply a matter of time” Aradottir said.
95 percent of the 220 tons were successfully turned into stone in just two years, but if given more time the scientists know that would be a full 100 percent.
Previous experiments with CCS saw CO2 being injected into sandstone, or into deep water aquifers, where it was then capped with an impermeable stone to help prevent seepage. Something that is not an issue with the new method. Yet another method being tried is a ‘sponge’ that captures CO2.
This new method eliminates not only the seepage issue altogether but it also does away with another cost associated with the ‘capping’ method — monitoring.
Where CO2 has been injected and capped, companies need to then monitor the site to make sure nothing is leaking back out and, if it is leaking, they need to find out at what rate, and then figure a way to stop the seepage. Since CO2 is a gas, it can find a way out through even the smallest of openings.
The Iceland project has already scaled up their operation and are now turning 10,000 tons of CO2 a year into stone, and have even begun to look another type of rock, Olivine, as a catalyst.
Since CO2 is seen as the major factor influencing climate change, this innovation stands to make a huge impact. The only thing standing in the way of commercializing this technology is cost. There simply isn’t enough incentive being put forth by governments to help push industry into using this new technology yet.
“We are very happy with the results and its implications for climate change” Aradottir said.
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