Carved in Stone? Turning CO2 Into Rock, for Good


Scientists have successfully captured otherwise emitted CO2, and turned it into carbonate minerals deep underground in less than 2 years.

Global CO2 emissions reached an all-time high in 2018 according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). “As a result of higher energy consumption, global energy-related CO2 emissions increased to 33.1 Gt CO2, up 1.7%,” the IEA says, underscoring the need for faster and stronger action to tackle climate change.

Some scientists have been working on novel methods to mitigate global warming, including the upscaling of carbon capture and storage (CCS). The EU-funded CarbFix2 project has made great strides in developing a secure, efficient and cost-effective process and technology for permanent CO2 mineral storage in the subsurface.

CCS technology has been around since the 1970s, albeit in limited use due to various barriers to its widespread uptake – with cost being the most significant hurdle. CCS involves trapping CO2 emitted from large point sources such as power plants, compressing it and transporting it to a suitable storage site where it’s injected into the ground. During this process that uses storage in deep geological formations, CO2 is converted into a high-pressure liquid-like form known as supercritical CO2. This CO2 is injected directly into sedimentary rocks in depleted oil and gas reservoirs and coal beds, or in saline formations. However, the conventional CCS method carries a risk. The gas can leak back into the atmosphere “or into overlying fresh-water aquifers,” as noted on the project website.

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