Engineers and scientists have designed a system to pump gases back into the earth, where the CO2 turns into a solid.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2), the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities, has increased by about 9% between 1990 and 2014. The mass increase in carbon output has undoubtedly contributed to climate change, which is why scientists are scrambling to find a sustainable solution to contain emissions.
According to Newsweek, researchers in Iceland seem to have found an efficient method to do just that. Scientists at the Hellisheildi power plant – the world’s largest geothermal facility – have been injecting CO2 emissions into volcanic rock. The emissions are then transformed into carbonate minerals through a sped-up natural process.
Said Juerg Matter, a scientist with the University of Southampton who led the research:
“We need to deal with rising carbon emissions and this is the ultimate permanent storage—turn them back to stone.”
The research, which was published in the journal Science, reveals that between 95 and 98 percent of the injected CO2 was mineralized over the period of less than two years. That’s incredibly fast!
The video above conveys how emissions are able to be turned into stone. First, researchers dissolve CO2 in water. Then, they inject it into basaltic rock between 400 and 800 meters below the power plant. This results in the gas becoming permanently mineralized, reports Phys.
David Goldberg, a geophysicist at Columbia University, who did not partake in the study but praised it, told the press:
“It’s what we hoped for… and in some ways better. What’s going on here is a natural process being accelerated.”
In the past, scientists have attempted to capture and store carbon dioxide by injecting it into sandstone or sealing it into underground chambers. However, both methods are costly and come with the risk of leakage. This new solution seems to be much more practical and sustainable.
Now that researchers have been experimenting with the method for two years, they hope to scale up the study and test if the process risks can cause earthquakes. Goldberg is even ambitious that someday, the process could be used to store CO2 beneath the ocean floor.
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