“There are things we can do that emulate natural systems to address the carbon problem.”

Turning CO2 into rocks

#Environment

Mon, Jan 23rd, 2017 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Noting that there is no way for humanity to switch away from a carbon economy fast enough to avoid “overshooting safe CO2 limits in the air,” scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are developing a process that turns carbon dioxide into a mineralised form, by mimicking a natural process only much faster.

At Iceland’s Hellisheidi Power Plant, Lamont hydrologist Martin Stute, Adjunct Senior Research Scientist Juerg Matter, and colleagues tried something different. They used CO2 captured at the power plant, and mixed it with water and hydrogen sulfide, creating soda-like carbonation, then injected the mixture into porous basalt rocks 400 to 800 meters underground. Basalt, which is created as lava cools, contains calcium, iron, and magnesium, which react naturally with CO2 to form solid carbonate minerals. Within two years, 95 percent of the injected CO2 had turned to mineral – far faster than the 8–12 years originally expected.

“We knew that under natural conditions this process was happening, but we did not know on what time scale,” said Stute, who also teaches at Barnard College. “The energy company we were working with was so impressed by the success that they decided to adopt it.”

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