Icelandic Project Aims To Store Greenhouse Gas Underground

An interesting pilot project currently underway in the rocky grounds of Iceland may soon provide a new way for scientists to remove excess greenhouse gas (GHG) from the atmosphere for storage deep underground where it will cause no trouble. This program, called the Carbfix Project, is working around the concept of carbon sequestration, defined by Wikipedia as “a geoengineering technique for long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon to mitigate global warming.”

The idea being put forth and worked on in the field by Sigurdur Gislason of the University of Iceland and his team, which Gislason recently talked about in front of geochemists from around the world at a conference, is to take excess GHG and pump it “deep underground in southwest Iceland where it will mix with minerals and become rock.” The scientist said that “carbon dioxide mixed with water forms carbonic acid (also known as carbonated water or soda water), which percolates through the rocks, dissolving some minerals and forming solid carbonates with them, thereby storing the carbon dioxide in rock form.”

Carbfix Project

image via Clean Skies

Gislason’s project, which is being hosted at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant, captures and separates the flue gases, transports it, dissolves it in water and injects it at high pressures to a depth between 400 and 800 meters into a thick layer of basalt. His team is also working to verify and monitor the storage, with the long term project goal being to “find a storage solution that is long lasting, thermodynamically stable and environmentally benign.”

Clean Skies has produced an interesting video on the Carbfix project, which is below. Gislason hopes that if this project is successful it can be scaled up and used wherever carbon dioxide is emitted. He believes that this storage solution of carbon, as opposed to other carbon sequestering storage methods such as reservoirs, ocean water and mature oilfields, is more the future because, while it is believed by some experts that these other methods may leak carbon overtime, storage “as solid magnesium carbonates or calcium carbonates deep underground in basaltic rocks may provide a long-term and thermodynamically stable solution.”

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I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.