Carbon Dioxide To Stone

Posted by on Jan 26, 2018 in News | 0 comments

The seemingly endless new discoveries provided by the scientific process are a joy indeed. In software engineering so many processes are modeled after natural systems; it is wise for the professional engineer to study other disciplines. Climate change has captured the minds of millions around the world and made “science” a hot topic. In this article I present some interesting recent developments.

In the latter part of the 20th century, the concept of “compaction” became the accepted theory describing the creation of oil and gas. The idea is coal, oil and natural gas originate from the remains of plants and animals that died millions of years ago and were buried under layers of water and sediment, which prevented the normal decomposition into dirt that occurs at the surface of the earth. These layers were compressed into sedimentary rock, oil and gas, over the course of millions of years. “Compaction” theory says oil and gas is finite, and it is part of many climate change theories.

In the fall of 2015, Science magazine published the article “How buried water makes diamonds and oil” that describes the “Deep Earth Model” theory [HAND]. The model describes how water, 200 kilometers down, dissolves ions and causes many unexpected chemical reactions. This model challenges the theory of “compaction” and may significantly alter modern theories of biology and geology. It also presents a continuous active process, as observed in biological systems, one that may require far less time than the compaction theory.

Another interesting report entitled “Rapid carbon mineralization for permanent disposal of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions” [MATTER] describes a project being conducted in Iceland. A team of scientists on the CarbFix project are studying “sequestration,” which is the process of capturing gases such as CO2 and removing it permanently from the air. The commonly accepted theory states that sequestration requires thousands of years and the CarbFix study was expected to require many years to show measurable results. The article “New solution to carbon pollution?” [SCIENCE] published in Science magazine, describes the project. The team drilled wells, installed pipe and pumps, and began pumping gas into the wells. In just a few months one pump was failing regularly so the team hauled it up to the surface for maintenance. The pump was covered with a brittle crust. The team was surprised to learn that the crusty stuff had captured a large amount of CO2. This occurred far sooner than expected and suggests that CO2 sequestration can occur in very large quantities, perhaps up to 95% of injected volume, in a matter of months.

These studies, and other research underway, reveals a world far more dynamic and powerful than many believe. With clear-headed research we may find that the on-going processes of our Earth are keeping the planet healthy and alive, and that we can rely on it to sustain us for eons. In support of such hopes, 2017 brought new initiatives that build on these discoveries. The article “Iceland Experiment Successfully Turns CO2 Emissions into Rock” [HIRJI] describes an overview the sequestration process now underway in Iceland. A video, “Carbon Recycling Experiment in Iceland Crystalizes CO2” [KOUMQUÉ] also provides an introduction. Both articles cover the article “Underground injections turn carbon dioxide to stone” published by Science Magazine [KINTICSH].

Science. The process is continuous.

[HAND], Science 06 Nov 2015; Vol. 350, Issue 6261, pp. 613-614
[MATTER] Science 10 Jun 2016 Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1312-1314
[SCIENCE] Science 10 Jun 2016 Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1262-1263
[HIRJI] June 9, 2016
[KOUMQUÉ] YouTube News & Politics June 13, 2016
[KINTICSH] Science Posted in ClimateEarth doi:10.1126/science.aag0603

Deep Earth Illustration: Modified from R.G. Trønnes (2010), Mineral. Petrol. 99, 243-261