In Iceland, Researchers Turn Carbon Dioxide To Stone

Jun 9, 2016

CarbFix I pilot CO2 injection site during wireline diamond drilling to recover a 150 m of core from the CO2 storage reservoir in 2014 (~2 years after CO2 injection).
Credit Juerg Matter

In what could prove to be a major step forward for carbon capture and storage, a group of researchers in Iceland have discovered how to turn carbon dioxide emissions from a power plant into stone.

Carbon capture and storage is considered an important tool in the fight against global climate change, but the storage part of the equation has proved challenging—most work has focused on injecting the carbon dioxide into deep saline aquifers, which then need to be monitored for centuries for potential leaks.

In the Iceland study though, the power company injected a combined stream of water and carbon dioxide into a kind of rock called basalt. Within two years, the carbon dioxide had turned into another kind of rock, called calcite. If the process can be replicated elsewhere, it could provide a relatively fast, safe way to store carbon dioxide.

It’s worth noting that the study involved a very small amount of the gas—nothing close to the amount emitted by coal and natural gas plants. The process also used an enormous amount of water, although the researchers say seawater could be used.

The study was published in the journal Science.