Climate change mitigation: Turning CO2 into rock

Now “all” they need to do is to get the CO2 from Ohio to Iceland.

The media release is below.


Climate change mitigation: Turning CO2 into rock

An international team of scientists have found a potentially viable way to remove anthropogenic (caused or influenced by humans) carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere – turn it into rock.

The study, published today in Science, has shown for the first time that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) can be permanently and rapidly locked away from the atmosphere, by injecting it into volcanic bedrock. The CO2 reacts with the surrounding rock, forming environmentally benign minerals.

Measures to tackle the problem of increasing greenhouse gas emissions and resultant climate change are numerous. One approach is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), where CO2 is physically removed from the atmosphere and trapped underground. Geoengineers have long explored the possibility of sealing CO2 gas in voids underground, such as in abandoned oil and gas reservoirs, but these are susceptible to leakage. So attention has now turned to the mineralisation of carbon to permanently dispose of CO2.

Until now it was thought that this process would take several hundreds to thousands of years and is therefore not a practical option. But the current study – led by Columbia University, University of Iceland, University of Toulouse and Reykjavik Energy – has demonstrated that it can take as little as two years.

Lead author Dr Juerg Matter, Associate Professor in Geoengineering at the University of Southampton, says: “Our results show that between 95 and 98 per cent of the injected CO2 was mineralised over the period of less than two years, which is amazingly fast.”

The gas was injected into a deep well at the study site in Iceland. As a volcanic island, Iceland is made up of 90 per cent basalt, a rock rich in elements such as calcium, magnesium and iron that are required for carbon mineralisation. The CO2 is dissolved in water and carried down the well. On contact with the target storage rocks, at 400-800 metres under the ground, the solution quickly reacts with the surrounding basaltic rock, forming carbonate minerals.

“Carbonate minerals do not leak out of the ground, thus our newly developed method results in permanent and environmentally friendly storage of CO2 emissions,” says Dr Matter, who is also a member of the University’s Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute and Adjunct Senior Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Columbia University. “On the other hand, basalt is one of the most common rock type on Earth, potentially providing one of the largest CO2 storage capacity.”

To monitor what was happening underground, the team also injected ‘tracers’, chemical compounds that literally trace the transport path and reactivity of the CO2. There were eight monitoring wells at the study site, where they could test how the chemical composition of the water had changed. The researchers discovered that by the time the groundwater had migrated to the monitoring wells, the concentration of the tracers – and therefore the CO2 – had diminished, indicating that mineralisation had occurred.

“Storing CO2 as carbonate minerals significantly enhances storage security which should improve public acceptance of Carbon Capture and Storage as a climate change mitigation technology,” says Dr Matter.

“The overall scale of our study was relatively small. So, the obvious next step for CarbFix is to upscale CO2 storage in basalt. This is currently happening at Reykjavik Energy’s Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, where up to 5,000 tonnes of CO2 per year are captured and stored in a basaltic reservoir.”

The investigation is part of the CarbFix project, a European Commission and U.S. Department of Energy funded programme to develop ways to store anthropogenic CO2 in basaltic rocks through field, laboratory and modelling studies (


16 thoughts on “Climate change mitigation: Turning CO2 into rock”

  1. CO2 has limited bands where it will absorb light/electromagnetic energy. It is a poor absorber at the wavelength where most of Earth’s infrared radiation is emitted. Water on the other hand is a broad spectrum absorber. I guess this is just an inconvenient truth.

    As far as sequestering CO2, this is just about as stupid idea as I have heard. CO2 is a widely used industrial gas. Most industries that generate large quantities of CO2 are capturing the gas and selling it. But let us sequester CO2 in the ground so Praxair, Lunde, and other industrial gas suppliers have to burn tons and ton of materials to generate the needed CO2.

    Real climate change comes from changing land cover and land use. We have dramatic increased regional temperatures around solar energy farms, the urban heat island effect, deforestation and on and on. When the historical landscape is restored, the “historic” climate gets restored. Sudbury, Ontario, Canada is a prime example.

  2. Turn CO2 into rocks. I think they already have a lot of that in West Virginia; it’s called coal.

  3. CO2 in its rock form is actually called dry ice.
    Makes for fun elementary school science experiments.

  4. What he said! I’ve been preaching this same message for a long time now, and am appalled at how few people are willing to listen to someone who has either read the real science, or is doing the real science. The media has proffered a scare tactic to get readership and the mindless among us, apparently the bulk of the Bell Curve, are buying it wholesale.

  5. To the Editor:
    The atmosphere’s CO2 content is controlled by natural sources and sinks (oceans, photosynthesis, vegetative decay, volcanoes, etc.) and not by human emission from fossil combustion. The oceans contain fifty times more CO2 than the atmosphere, and human emission is rapidly sequestered in the colder oceans as carbonate and bicarbonate ions. Why then would you spend billions of dollars for an apparatus to sequester it when the oceans do it very effectively and for free?
    Furthermore, there is not one iota of reliable evidence that, at only 0.04%, CO2 has any effect on weather or climate. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, but is an essential ingredient in the Earth’s ecosystem on which all life depends (photosynthesis).

    Dr. Martin Hertzberg
    Golden, CO 970-333-7878
    coauthor, “Slaying the Sky Dragon ……”, Stairway Press, 2011

  6. I can’t stop my eyes from bleeding after reading this load of crap.

    Since the US Department of Energy is funding this ‘experiment’ CarbFix has found it’s ‘golden egg’, at our expense.

    Just follow the money.

  7. What next, perhaps telling us they can turn sea water into gold and it will cure their imagery global warming and fake C02 problem.

  8. Because we can!!!

    I am an engineer and was a Chartered Environmentalist until I retired.

    This suggestion seems about as nutty as it gets. How do we get the gas to the volcano? What happens if it erupts? What will it cost?

    Key to all these solutions is that they should be frighteningly expensive, keep an army of ‘scientists’ in work and allow the elite to control the rest of us in poverty, at least until we freeze to death.

  9. Hmmm. Seems a total waste of energy and effort to sequester CO2, which has no effect on global warming. All the recent studies show that global warming (by the sun) causes higher CO2 levels, not the other way around. Further, CO2 helps us grow food, so why would we want to ‘store it away’? It’s politicians and green weenies that come up with this kind of absurdity, and sadly it takes way too much time for reasonable and informed people to combat the idiocy, time which could be put to better uses. When will the madness stop?

  10. Why would you want to make carbonatite at great expense if you also can grow trees? Using crushed olivine rock as fertiliser even binds more CO2 (cf. Olaf Schuiling)

  11. Yeah — since we (apparently) can, let’s solve the whole CO2 “problem” by scouring the atmosphere and ridding it of this “nasty” gas. Never mind that plants actually need and use it for their growth (and the more of it the happier they are), and its alleged role in alleged “global warming” has yet to be actually proven. But, what the heck, politically motivated speculation trumps the need for proof any day of the week, so proof is not needed. Let’s get this show rolling…

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