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Scientists turn carbon dioxide into solid rock

Iceland: In what could be termed as an extraordinary feat, scientists have turned carbon dioxide into solid rock by pumping it underground. The Carbfix project, which offers an effective way to cap climate change, was conducted in Iceland’s Hellisheidi plant, the largest geothermal facility in the world. The technique has to clear some high hurdles to become commercially viable. But scientists say the project, dubbed CarbFix, offers a ray of hope for beleaguered efforts to fight climate change by capturing and storing CO2 from power plants.

Dozens of pilot projects around the world have sought to test carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a way of curbing CO2 emissions from power plants. Very few have been scaled up, owing to prohibitive costs, estimated at $50 to $100 per ton of 
CO2 sequestered. Measurements of dissolved carbon in the groundwater suggested that more than 95% of the injected carbon had already been converted into calcite and other minerals. “It was a huge surprise that the carbonation happened so fast,” says Juerg Matter, a geologist with CarbFix at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. Laboratory tests by Matter’s team and others, along with computer modeling, had previously suggested that carbonation in basalt would take at least a decade.