We can slow the rise of global temperatures by turning CO2 into rock.
It is a fact that the Earth is about 0.85°C warmer than last century’s average temperature. The reason for this temperature increase is up for debate, but the consensus seems to point to an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – most notably CO2. Experts estimate that we will emit about 37 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere this year. This is why most renewable energy technologies aim to have little or no CO2 emissions.
Due to political, social, and economic reasons we cannot simply stop using fossil fuels immediately. This is why scientists are looking into ways to deal with the CO2 that we are emitting. One of the ways to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is carbon capture and storage (CCS). This involves collecting emissions from locations such as power plants, and putting the emitted CO2 underground where it cannot contribute to the greenhouse effect.
One of the concerns with CCS is that the CO2 will escape its underground prison. However, a team at Southampton University may have found a solution. They have managed to turn the stored CO2 into calcite and magnesite by putting the CO2 in basalt.
This process also occurs naturally, but takes millions of years. The Southhampton team’s methodology works to speed things up so that the CO2 turns to rock in about two years.
Innovative ideas like this will be needed to help slow our carbon emissions until renewable energy sources such as solar can be ramped up.