Scientists turn carbon dioxide into stone to fight climate change

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Scientists have turned carbon dioxide into stone in a matter of months by pumping it deep underground, offering a revolutionary new way of storing the greenhouse gas to tackle climate change. The pioneering experiment in Iceland mixed CO2 emissions with water and pumped it hundreds of meters (feet) underground into volcanic basalt rock — where it rapidly turned into a solid. “We need to deal with rising carbon emissions. This is the ultimate permanent storage — turn them back to stone,” said Juerg Matter, lead author of the study published Thursday in the journal Science.
Carbon dioxide is a key factor in global warming, and experts have long called for innovative “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) solutions. Previous attempts to inject CO2 into sandstone soils or deep saline aquifers have struggled, as they relied on capping rocks to hold the gas down — triggering fears it could eventually leak.
In contrast, the Carbfix project at Iceland’s Hellisheidi plant — the world’s largest geothermal facility, which powers Reykjavik — sought to solidify the CO2. The plant produces 40,000 tons of CO2 a year — just five per cent of the emissions of a similarly sized coal plant, but still significant. In 2012, they began pumping 250 tons of CO2 mixed with water underground. Scientists had feared it could take hundreds or even thousands of years for the mildly acidic liquid to solidify.

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