Iceland’s giant basalt deposits… a huge European carbon dioxide burial

Not far from the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant is the largest in the country and the second most powerful plant on Earth, but it is also a unique facility in that it converts carbon dioxide into harmless rocks buried deep in the earth. .

The French magazine “Le Point” was interested in a report It has this station, which is the meeting point of a group of winding pipes extending for kilometers, and also includes small metal huts for exploration, including the European “Carbfix” project, which is part of the efforts to confront the repercussions of global warming.

Water is mixed with carbon dioxide and billions of tons of the mixture are injected into the pores of basalt rocks (Getty Images)

crazy idea

This project, which has been developed since 2006, is based on a “crazy idea” – according to the magazine – to mix water with carbon dioxide and inject billions of tons of this poison in the atmosphere into the pores of basalt rocks at a depth of one to two kilometers underground, where it turns into stones.

Thanks to the great ability of these igneous rocks to react because they contain magnesium, calcium and iron, the carbon dioxide dissolved in the depths of the earth forms the carbonates of any new minerals.

Ida Aradottir, the young CEO of Karpfix – a subsidiary of the Icelandic national company Reykjavik Energy, which is responsible for activating the European project – confirms that this method of converting carbon dioxide into rock “is not more dangerous than just collecting pebbles .. the interaction It happens naturally on geological time scales. We just sped up the process so that the transformation takes only two years.”

“There is something better,” she says. “Since the carbon dioxide infiltrates with the water, the extent of a single well can extend over several kilometres, which is good given the high cost of drilling.”

This result, according to Pascal Benezeth Gesque, director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research – one of the “prominent” contributors to the project – is due to “the technology of injecting carbon dioxide dissolved in water. If it is injected in a gaseous form, the basalt will react Very quickly, it will form minerals very close to the injection well.”

Burial takes place in giant basalt deposits that are only available in limited areas of the world, such as Iceland (Getty Images)

Giant basalt deposits

“In the Icelandic soil alone, there is enough to store trillions of tons, we only need carbon dioxide, basalt and water,” notes Ida Aradottir.

But to reach the project’s goal of burying one billion tons annually by 2030 – the magazine adds – “Carpfix” will have to solve a major problem, which is access to fresh water, because burying one ton of carbon dioxide requires at least 25 tons, which is what Equivalent to 10 Olympic swimming pools of water.

And if Iceland and other countries such as Canada, Brazil or Norway have enough fresh water, the rest of the world is sorely lacking it and this shortage is getting worse with the repercussions of global warming, so the project engineers are trying to replace it with sea water, but they are not sure whether it will work because the operations The chemical is completely different.

In addition, burial must take place in gigantic basalt deposits that are only available in limited areas of the world, such as Iceland, in the “deccan terraces” in India, or in British Columbia, Canada, where the Canadian company “Carbon Engineering” – a competitor The main company “Carpfix”- also with promising experiences.

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