There are no shortage of novel engineering ideas for slowing or halting global warming (anyone remember space sunshades?), but a new joint American-Icelandic experiment may actually hold some promise. The team of scientists involved int he project are proposing to pump carbon dioxide deep into limestone bedrock, where they hope it will be locked away for good. The carbon sequestering project begins next month.
The 6-12 month test, called CarbFix, is has a short-term goal of giving CO2-generating geothermal plants Iceland a way to become truly carbon-neutral. But the longer-term implications could be on a global scale.
So how does it work? The idea is to pump carbonated “seltzer” water into the basalt rock that underpins 90% of Iceland’s topography. Once the seltzer water comes into contact with the porous, highly reactive stone, the carbon should bind to the calcium in the rock and become limestone.
The scientists are already warning that even if successful, their plan is not a stand-alone solution. Still, the sponsors of CarbFix expect this experiment will succeed — if only by training a new generation of scientists and engineers how to trap and store greenhouse gases.
Photo: Bergur Sigfusson, CarbFix’s technical manager, surveys the Hellisheidi geotherman power plant in Iceland. (Brennan Linsley / AP Photo)