Scientists have broken through, finding a new study that supports the method of turning Carbon Dioxide gas into solid rock.
Called The Carbfix project, and run by a leading Icelandic producer of geothermal power, Reykjavik Energy, the team had successfully injected 250 tons of carbon dioxide, dissolved in water, into an underground repository of volcanic rocks called basalts. Inside of these rocks, and over a two-year period of time, the gas had undergone a chemical reaction and turned into ankerite, a rock comprised of calcium, carbon, oxygen, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
“We’d seen these things in the lab, but the field is often a case where your best laid plans and ideas from lab experiments fall apart, and just don’t work out,” said Peter McGrail of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a branch of the Department of Energy also working on turning CO2 into rock. “And the fact now that we’ve seen this after just two years with the exact really same things that we’ve seen in the laboratory, it’s a really significant result for us.
“There is no other possible explanation,” he said. “The only way that those carbonates had formed, it had to come from the CO2 that we injected.”
“Taking this study together with the Icelandic study, you see real progress toward making in situ mineralization a high quality affordable carbon storage technology,” said Klaus Lackner, a researcher at Arizona State University who directs its Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, where he is developing technologies to capture carbon dioxide from the ambient air all around us. “Sure, there are more questions to answer, but these papers represent immense progress. The two studies complement and reinforce each other.
“There is a real value in being sure that storage is permanent on a geological time scale and that the carbon does not need any further monitoring,” he said. “Once you made carbonate there is no reason why it would revert again. You hit the thermodynamic ground state and it is very difficult to dislodge it from there.”
Very exciting, the thought that we can harden and store carbon dioxide in rock form for future generations. Not only do we pull it out of the air, but we can store it for later in what Lackner calls an "unlimited storage capacity."