CarbFix

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CarbFix is a project in Iceland intended to lock away carbon dioxide by reacting it with basaltic rocks.[1] Work on the project began in 2007. The CarbFix team involved American and Icelandic researchers including Iceland geologist Sigurdur Reynir Gislason serving as chief scientist, project technical manager Bergur Sigfusson, manager Juerg Matter who worked with Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and scientific overseer, Wallace S. Broecker (also with Columbia). Reykjavik Energy supplied almost half the $10 million spent thus far on CarbFix. Other sponsors included U.S. and Icelandic universities. In addition to finding a new method for permanent carbon dioxide storage, another objective of the project was to train scientists for years of work to come.[2]

Theory[edit]

Carbonated water is injected into the rock and hopefully reacts with the Ca and Mg present.[1] This is called enhanced weathering, calcium and magnesium are present in basalt - but rarely as simple oxides where the equations would be simple:

  • CaO + CO2 → CaCO3
  • MgO + CO2 → MgCO3

However silicate minerals of these elements are common in basalt, so an example reaction might be:

  • Mg2SiO4 + 2CO2 → 2MgCO3 + SiO2

as a result CO2 is locked away with no dangerous byproducts.

Practicalities[edit]

Drilling and injecting carbonated water at high pressure into basaltic rocks at Hellisheidi [1] is expensive.

This 10 million dollar project commenced carbon injection in 2012.[3][4] The funding was supplied by the University of Iceland, Columbia University, France's National Centre of Scientific Research, the United States Department of Energy, the EU, Scandinavian funds and Reykjavik Energy.[3]

Possible problems[edit]

These reactions are exothermic and reversible if the rock is later heated.

The nearby Hengill volcano, generated a swarm of low magnitude earthquakes as a result of pumping water without the CO2, with 250 quakes being reported on 13 September 2011.[5] There have been earthquakes reported there due to the water pumping previously.[6][7] Proceedings at the 2010 World Geothermal Congress reported that reinjection at Hellisheidi had induced seismic activity.[8]

Other gases[edit]

There are reports that not only CO2 is intended to be fixed. Hydrogen sulfide may also be injected.[5]

Current status[edit]

The CarbFix project showed in 2016 that 95% of the injected 250 tonnes of CO2 were solidified into calcite in 2 years, using 25 tonnes of water per tonne of CO2.[9][10][11]

Another pilot plant (CarbFix2 ) started up in October 2017 at the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant. CarbFix2 was designed to capture up to 50 tons of CO2 from the air, dissolve it in water and inject it over 700 metres underground into basaltic rocks. The CO2 would react with the basalt and form solid carbonate minerals.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "CarbFix: About the Project". Archived from the original on 21 October 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "That CO2 warming the world: Lock it in a rock". Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Iceland's Hellisheidi prepares to start injection at carbon storage project". 9 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Carbfix project – from gas to rock - GREBE Project". GREBE project, European Union. 2017-02-19. Retrieved 2017-12-04. 
  5. ^ a b "Water pumping causes tremor" (in Icelandic). 13 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Orkuveitan framkallar jarðskjálfta í Henglinum" (in Icelandic). 21 February 2011. 
  7. ^ "Human made earthquakes in Hengill volcano". 21 February 2011. 
  8. ^ "Geothermal Reinjection at the Hengill Triple Junction, SW Iceland" (PDF). Retrieved 27 September 2011. [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Matter, Juerg M.; Stute, Martin; Snæbjörnsdottir, Sandra O.; Oelkers, Eric H.; Gislason, Sigurdur R.; Aradottir, Edda S.; Sigfusson, Bergur; Gunnarsson, Ingvi; Sigurdardottir, Holmfridur; Gunlaugsson, Einar; Axelsson, Gudni; Alfredsson, Helgi A.; Wolff-Boenisch, Domenik; Mesfin, Kiflom; Fernandez de la Reguera Taya, Diana; Hall, Jennifer; Dideriksen, Knud; Broecker, Wallace S. (June 10, 2016). "Rapid carbon mineralization for permanent disposal of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions". Science. 352 (6291): 1312–1314. Bibcode:2016Sci...352.1312M. doi:10.1126/science.aad8132. PMID 27284192. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  10. ^ "Scientists turn carbon dioxide into stone to combat global warming". The Verge. Vox Media. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2016. 
  11. ^ Le Page, Michael (2016-06-09). "CO2 injected deep underground turns to rock – and stays there". New Scientist. Retrieved 2017-12-04. 
  12. ^ Proctor, Darrell (2017-12-01). "Test of Carbon Capture Technology Underway at Iceland Geothermal Plant". POWER Magazine. Retrieved 2017-12-04. 

External links[edit]