In DepthGeochemistry

New solution to carbon pollution?

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Science  10 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1262-1263
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6291.1262

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Researchers working in Iceland say they have discovered a new way to trap the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) deep underground: by changing it into rock. Results published this week in Science show that injecting CO2 into volcanic rocks known as basalt triggers a reaction that rapidly forms new carbonate minerals—potentially locking up the gas forever. Most other tests of carbon capture and storage (CCS) have taken place in sandstone formations. But sandstone is too chemically inert to foster CO2-trapping reactions, and scientists worry that gas injected into it could leak back into the atmosphere. Scientists say the new results could help solve some of the technical problems that have kept CCS projects from being commercially successful. But they say the main obstacle—high cost—is one that only changes in policy can overcome.