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The Promise and Potential of Turning CO2 to Stone

On a planet where global concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide are higher than at any other time in human history, the need for game-changing solutions is escalating.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, which remove tons of carbon dioxide from industrial processes and store them away so they can’t add to the climate crisis, are gaining attention and support. A recent review paper details how CCS can contribute to a long-term reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and work to meet the caps on human-caused global warming written into the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

At Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, David Goldberg is on the forefront of developing technologies with the ability to capture CO2 and turn it into stone. He has been involved in recent projects that have demonstrated that when you inject CO2 and water into basalt rock, the silicate material takes up the gas and turns it into carbonate rock. If this natural process can be enhanced, scientists believe it could be a valuable tool to solve the crisis-level airborne carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.

How the Solid Carbon project works.

Under an Iceland-based pilot project called CarbFix — designed and carried out with Columbia leadership — researchers proved that basaltic rock units react rapidly with CO2 captured from a power plant. The team mixed gasses generated by the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant with water and reinjected the solu