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Climate Change Breakthrough: Scientists Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Rocks

Nov 19, 2016 03:29 PM EST

A team of scientists has discovered a way to store carbon dioxide (CO2) into rocks, converting it into stable carbonate minerals. This new technology opens up a possible solution for lessening carbon emissions, making the Paris Climate Agreement target more achievable.

According to the study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, basalt rocks, which are formed from lava, could transform and lock carbon dioxide into solid form in just two years. Once carbon dioxide is injected into the basalt rock, it will not escape to the atmosphere. The team consisted of researchers from the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership, Shell Exploration & Production Company, Portland General Electric and Schlumberger Inc.

The researchers came up with the solution by conducting a project in the Columbia River Basalt formation, where they drilled a well to test the formation's properties. In 2013, the team injected carbon dioxide into the formation, and then extracted samples two years later. The samples showed that the carbon dioxide has transformed into a carbonate mineral called ankerite.

Other projects have also dabbed into the idea of turning carbon dioxide into solid rocks, one of which is in Iceland where researchers injected carbon dioxide, which was pre-dissolved in water, into a basalt rock, successfully storing it. Another study conducted by researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership also injected 1,1000 tons of pressurized liquid carbon dioxide into a basalt formation, Science Daily reports.

The researchers said that considering the big amount of basalt formations found in North America and all over the world, this could offer a new solution in storing large amounts of carbon dioxide.

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