Ever men of nature, the Icelanders developed CarbFix. In this industrial process Reykjavik engineers capture carbon gasses, dissolve them into water and inject them under ground. 1000 meters below surface carbon dioxide turns into rock.
Carbon mineralisation already takes place in nature. This process, however, takes over hundreds of years during which carbon gasses still escape to the atmosphere. The Icelandic approach, followed by the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant since 2014, not only speeds up CarbFix to a period of months. Also, it prevents gas leakages because carbon dioxide is pre-emptively dissolved into water, before sending it in depth.
‘For this method to work, we need a lot of water’ says geochemist Sigurður Gíslason of the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences: ’We need 25 tons of water to dissolve one ton of CO2.For this reason CarbFix projects are running close to the coast lines of India, Saudi-Arabia, Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand. Regions with little rainfall, such as the centre of India, are more challenging areas.’
The same goes for transportation if co2 sources are not located close to basalt ground. While Iceland is blessed with abundant basalt soil – the main ingredient for CarbFix – only few places have the same geological composition.. ‘However as the ocean floor is covered with basalt, new research is focussed on capturing co2 through the use of seawater for storage. The experiments we are doing are very promising.’
At the same time Sigurður maintains a realistic view on the SDG’s in 2030:’CarbFix is not going to be a silver bullet, but it will be another tool to fight global warming.’ In their struggle against climate change Icelandic scientists recently enjoyed welcome news.
As of July 2019 a letter of intent has been signed by their government to investigate whether CarbFix can be applied as technically and financially sustainable method to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from companies in Iceland. Hereby realising carbon neutrality in 2040.