Scottish team gets funding to turn CO2 into stone

Scientist in white suit works inside futuristic looking white igloo tent (CO2)
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A team of Scottish scientists have received £1 million of UK Government funding to develop new ways to measure the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) in volcanic rock.

This relatively new carbon storage technique, known as mineralisation, has been used successfully in Iceland, where the reactivity of the basalt volcanic rock converts the carbon dioxide rapidly into new minerals, safely locking it away underground.

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Carbon capture and storage is becoming increasingly important to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, where they are the principal contributor to global heating.

The scientists will work with Icelandic mineralisation operator Carbfix to test new methods to track the carbon dioxide being captured from the country’s largest geothermal power plant and verify its safe and permanent storage.

Dr Stuart Gilfillan, of the University of Edinburgh, and his team will use mineral analysis techniques and a novel CO2 fingerprinting tool, currently being patented by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service.

The INCLUSION project, in collaboration with Carbfix and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC), has been awarded £1 million of funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)’s Pushing the Frontiers scheme.

Dr Gilfillan said, “This project will combine the state-of-the-art scientific laboratory facilities available in Scotland with the world’s leading CO2 mineralisation project to provide essential understanding of how to safely lock away CO2 underground in basalts.

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“We will also develop our understanding of the reactivity of basalt and other volcanic rock, to understand the potential of mineralisation in other parts of the world, such as Scotland.”

SUERC director Professor Fin Stuart said, “We will determine the unique chemical fingerprint of the injected CO2 at Carbfix, and record how that changes during the storage process. This will enable us to determine how, and how much, CO2 is stored and provide confidence in the amount of CO2 that can be stored by mineralisation in the future, which can also aid participation in carbon credit schemes.”

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