About Carbfix project – from gas to rock
CarbFix is a collaborative research project between Reykjavik Energy, the University of Iceland, Columbia University and CNRS that aims at developing safe, simple and economical methods and technology for permanent CO2 mineral storage in basalts. The CarbFix team had demonstrated that over 95% of CO2 captured and injected at Hellisheidi geothermal Power Plant in Iceland was mineralized within two years. This contrasts the previous common view that mineralization in CCS projects takes hundreds to thousands of years. Industrial scale capture and injection have been ongoing at the power plant since 2012. This project has evoked reactions worldwide as global warming is dangerously approaching 2°C which is seen as having catastrophically consequences.
Why Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)?
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming of more than 2°C would have serious consequences, such as an increase in the number of extreme climate events. The Paris agreement from the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015 sets out a global action plan to limit global warming to bell below 2°C. The agreement is the first ever universal, legally binding global climate deal.
To reach this target, climate experts estimate that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be reduced by 40-70% by 2050 and that carbon neutrality (zero emissions) needs to be reached by the end of the century at the latest. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has furthermore estimated that carbon capture and storage is vital if the world is to limit global temperature increase to 2°C.
CarbFix for future reduction of greenhouse gases
Reducing industrial CO2 emissions is considered one of the main challenges of this century. By capturing CO2 from variable sources and injecting it into suitable deep rock formations, the carbon released is returned back where it was extracted instead of freeing it to the atmosphere. This technology might help to mitigate climate change as injecting CO2 at carefully selected geological sites with large potential storage capacity can be a long lasting and environmentally benign storage solution.
Picture of Hellisheiði Power Plant. Photo: Arni Saeberg.
To address this challenge, the CarbFix project is designed to optimize industrial methods for storing CO2 in basaltic rocks through a combined program consisting of, field scale injection of CO2 charged waters into basaltic rocks, laboratory based experiments, study of natural analogues and state of the art geochemical modeling. A second and equally important goal of this research project is to generate the human capital and expertise to apply the advances made in this project in the future.
Details and results of this research program, including regular updates, can be found on this website https://www.or.is/english/carbfix-project/about-carbfix
The objectives and procedure behind Carbfix project
The main objective is to develop new method and technology for capturing CO2 and H2S emission and turn into rock, carbon and Sulfur fixation so to speak. Basalt plays key role in the mineralization process as it contains high amount of calcium, magnesium and iron and these chemicals interact with CO2 and H2S to form minerals. They form Calcite from CO2 and fools gold from H2S.
Picture of ‘fools gold’ Picture of Calcite
The procedure is described as injecting the captured gas into the earth again, where they were originated. It involves separating CO2 and H2S from other gases in the scrubbing system. During scrubbing the gases CO2 and H2S are dissolved in water resulting in a type of mineral water. This water is then injected into basaltic host formation and the outcome is fools gold from CO2 and Calcite from H2S. The mineralization takes about 2 years and is stable for centuries or even millions of years.
Picture of Core from injection site showing CO2 bearing carbonate minerals within basaltic host rock. Photo: Sandra O Snaebjornsdottir
The method developed can be utilized wherever carbon dioxide is emitted in the vicinity of basaltic rock and water and sea. These conditions are widely found on the planet.
What are the goals of CarbFix?
CarbFix is aimed at developing new methods and technology for permanent CO2 mineral storage in basalts. This is done through a combined program consisting of:
- field scale injection of CO2 charged waters into basaltic rocks
- laboratory based experiments
- study of natural analogues
- geochemical modeling
A second and equally important goal of this research project is to generate the human capital and expertise to apply the advances made in this project in the future as mentioned above.