CarbFix project in Iceland converts CO2 into subsurface calcite

HENGILL, Iceland — A carbon mineralization project is underway in Iceland to dissipate carbon dioxide by reacting it with basaltic rocks to create calcite (limestone), a crystalline solid.

Reykjavik Energy has supplied almost half of the $10 million spent thus far on the CarbFix project. The CO2 comes from Reykjavik’s Hellisheidi geothermal power plant. Other CarbFix sponsors include U.S. and Icelandic universities.

Instituted in 2007, The CarbFix team includes American and Icelandic researchers, including Iceland geologist Sigurdur Reynir Gislason serving as chief scientist, project technical manager Bergur Sigfusson, manager Juerg Matter who works with Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and scientific overseer, Wallace S. Broecker (also with Columbia).

In a test that began in 2012, scientists injected hundreds of tons of water and CO2 about 1,500 ft down into layers of porous basaltic rock, the product of ancient lava flows from the nearby Hengill volcano. Cores taken by University of Iceland researchers have shown presence of calicites. The CarbFix approach accelerates the carbonation process by injecting into basalt, a very reactive rock.

A submersible pump installed at the bottom of a nearby well to monitor the injection process broke down twice. Both times, when it was hauled up for repairs, it was covered with calcite.

According to the CarbFix team, 95% of 220 tonnes of CO2 gas that was pumped underground turned into limestone within just two years after the process occurred.

 

CarbFix project is underway in Iceland to mineralize CO2 from the Reykjavik Energy’s Hellisheidi geothermal power plant. 

A core sample from the under-ground formation pumped with water and CO2 shows basaltic rock (drak gray) and calcite (white).

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CarbFix Carbon mineralization project in Iceland.