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Carbon dioxide storage through mineral carbonation

An Author Correction to this article was published on 10 November 2020

This article has been updated

Abstract

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has a fundamental role in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit anthropogenic warming to 1.5–2 °C. Most ongoing CCS projects inject CO2 into sedimentary basins and require an impermeable cap rock to prevent the CO2 from migrating to the surface. Alternatively, captured carbon can be stored through injection into reactive rocks (such as mafic or ultramafic lithologies), provoking CO2 mineralization and, thereby, permanently fixing carbon with negligible risk of return to the atmosphere. Although in situ mineralization offers a large potential volume for carbon storage in formations such as basalts and peridotites (both onshore and offshore), its large-scale implementation remains little explored beyond laboratory-based and field-based experiments. In this Review, we discuss the potential of mineral carbonation to address the global CCS challenge and contribute to long-term reductions in atmospheric CO2. Emphasis is placed on the advances in making this technology more cost-effective and in exploring the limits and global applicability of CO2 mineralization.

Key points

  • Carbon capture and storage has a key role in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

  • CO2 storage through mineral carbonation extends the applicability of carbon capture and storage by enabling storage in areas previously not considered feasible.

  • The rapid mineralization of CO2 through injection into reactive rock formations increases storage security.

  • Carbon mineralization in basaltic rocks offers a global storage potential that exceeds anthropogenic emissions.

  • The method can be used for the subsurface storage of CO2, and potentially other environmentally important gases, through water capture, although this approach is water-intensive.

  • Considerable efforts are needed to accelerate the deployment of CO2 storage through mineral carbonation, including more widespread operation in diverse conditions.

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Fig. 1: Comparison of CO2-trapping mechanisms for supercritical and dissolved CO2 injections.
Fig. 2: Locations of feasible geological formations for in situ mineral carbonation.
Fig. 3: Calcium and magnesium release rates from mafic rocks and minerals.
Fig. 4: Comparison of carbon-injection methods.
Fig. 5: Water and energy demands for dissolving and pressurizing CO2.
Fig. 6: Advanced carbon-mineralization operations.
Fig. 7: Water and energy demands of capturing impure CO2 gas streams.

Change history

  • 10 November 2020

    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.

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Acknowledgements

S.Ó.S., B.S., C.M., S.R.G. and E.H.O. work on the CarbFix project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement 764760 (CarbFix2), 818169 (GECO) and 764810 (S4CE). D.G. works on the Solid Carbon project funded by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. The authors thank E.S. Aradóttir Pind, R.B. Bragadóttir, K. Helgason, M. Voigt and R. Þrastarson for discussions and assistance in developing Fig. 2.

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Correspondence to Sandra Ó. Snæbjörnsdóttir.

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Snæbjörnsdóttir, S.Ó., Sigfússon, B., Marieni, C. et al. Carbon dioxide storage through mineral carbonation. Nat Rev Earth Environ 1, 90–102 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43017-019-0011-8

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