September 3, 2011
Scientists explore locking CO2 in rocks
Charles J. Hanley
“Whether we do it in the next 50 years, or the 50 years after that, we’re going to have to store carbon dioxide.” That statement, from Wallace S. Broecker of Columbia University, pretty much “captures” it. The U.S. is not going to be significantly reducing its reliance on fossil fuels (coal, natural gas) for electricity generation any time soon. In the meantime, it is essential to find a way to capture and store the CO2 emissions, in order to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, which contribute to global warming. An experiment is underway in Iceland to pump seltzer water into a deep hole as part of a process (“CarbFix”) that will lock away the CO2 forever by using it to form limestone. The plan is to inject up to 2,000 tons of CO2over six to twelve months, and then track the process (“carbon mineralization”) to see how far the carbonic acid solution spreads. Far fetched? Possibly. But the need for developing carbon capture and sequestration technology is so urgent, and the benefits are potentially so massive (and financially profitable), that the effort is worth it.