Volcanic Rocks As a Solution to Climate Change

There are many initiatives that are trying to stop climate change. Iceland is developing a rather curious one: injecting the CO2 we generate into volcanic rocks, removing it from the atmosphere and turning it into a mineral salt. The United Nations announced last year that we only have 12 years to stop climate change, if it does not, its effects will be irreversible and catastrophic. Most countries are changing their energy models to use renewable energy to slow the spread of pollution, but others are trying to clean up the air that we have already polluted.

Iceland is responsible for a project that has been active since 2012, known as CarbFix. The initiative began by studying how basaltic rocks reacted to CO2, for which they injected carbon dioxide into the pores of rocks formed by cooling lava. To his surprise, two years later, almost all of the CO2 injected had been converted to carbonate minerals. These are salts found in minerals, such as calcite or aragonite, according to the World Economic Forum.

Volcanic Rocks

The site where CarbFix is being developed is the Hellisheidi geothermal plant, some 30 kilometres from Reykjavik. Many are interested in this initiative. The Reykjavik energy company, the University of Iceland, the CNRS of France and Columbia University are currently working there.

Hellisheidi is located on the Hengill volcano, just above basaltic rocks and a stream of underground water that generates electricity and hot water for Reykjavik.

Although Iceland is famous for using geothermal energy in much of the country, these geothermal plants emit amounts of CO2, of course, nothing compared to fossil fuels.

It is this small amount of CO2 that they are converting into mineral salts. They collect carbon dioxide and dissolve it in water, which is then injected into the rocks. The team works so that the water used can be salty, since it is necessary to use large quantities and, at the moment, it only works with fresh water.

CarbFiX researchers believe it could be used anywhere. Basaltic rocks are the most common type of rock on Earth, covering most of the ocean floor and 10% of the continents.

Despite the fact that models such as CarbFix are designed that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere, it is vital that measures continue to be taken to eliminate CO2 emissions since it would be impossible to install as many CarbFix plants as to remove all the CO2 we generate.

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