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The CarbFix project is designed to optimize industrial methods for storing CO2 in basaltic rocks through a combined program consisting of, field scale injection of CO2 charged waters into basaltic rocks, laboratory based experiments, study of natural analogues and state of the art geochemical modeling. A second and equally important goal of this research project is to generate the human capital and expertise to apply the advances made in this project in the future.+
This research program includes:
- Field scale injection of CO2 charged waters into basaltic rocks at the Hellisheidi natural laboratory. The Hellisheidi natural laboratory, situated in the Hengill area, SW Iceland, comprises ideal conditions for studying the feasibility of permanent CO2 storage as minerals in basaltic rocks due to availability of CO2 and water, the presence of fresh basalts, suitable geological structures, and an extensive infrastructure.
- Laboratory experiments research program. The emphasis of this experimental program is to quantify basalt dissolution and carbonate precipitation rates stemming from during CO2 injection.
- Studies of natural CO2–rich water reactivity as natural analogues to the behavior of injected CO2. A significant number of natural sites have experienced basalt interaction with CO2 charges waters. Studies of these systems provide insight into the long-term stability of basalt hosted CO2 storage.
- Geochemical modeling. Geochemical modeling will be performed to interpret laboratory experiments and field work as well as to predict/optimize the long-term behavior of CO2 injection sites.
Four partners have been involved with the project from its inception in 2007:
Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (Reykjavik Energy) is a public utility that provides electricity, geothermal water for heating, and cold water for consumption and fire fighting, with services extending to 20 communities, covering 67% of the Icelandic population.
University of Iceland
The University of Iceland is a progressive educational and scientific institution, renowned in the global scientific community for its research. It is a state university, situated in the heart of Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland.
Earth Institute - Columbia University
With 850 scientists, postdoctoral fellows and students working in and across more than 20 Columbia University research centers, The Earth Institute is helping to advance nine interconnected global issues: climate and society, water, energy, poverty, ecosystems, public health, food and nutrition, hazards and urbanization.
The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Center for Scientific Research) is a government-funded research organization, under the administrative authority of France's Ministry of Research.
Two new partners were added after the project recieved a substantial grant from the European Union in 2011:
NanoGeoScience – University of Copenhagen
The University of Copenhagen is the largest Nordic university and is well respected internationally. NanoGeoScience, a part of the Nano-Science Centre, is an international team of approximately 50 physicists, chemists, geologists, mineralogists, biologists, mathematicians and engineers.
AMPHOS 21 Consulting S.L. is a SME that provides scientific and technical consultancy services addressing a range of environmental issues, mainly associated with the management and disposal of hazardous wastes, contaminated groundwater and soils as well as environmental planning and management.
1. Why mineralogical storage of CO2?
In geological CO2 storage, CO2 is stored in deep underground formations, such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs and deep saline aquifers. Oil and gas reservoirs have naturally stored CO2 and other gases and fluids for millions of years without significant leakage. However, nothing is absolutely sure. Therefore, mineralogical CO2 storage is aimed at permanently storing CO2 in form of carbonate minerals. By bringing CO2 to its thermodynamic ground state, which is a carbonate mineral, potential health, safety and environmental risks are minimized.
2. Why basalt and why Iceland?
Basaltic rocks are one of the most reactive rock types of the Earth’s crust. Basaltic rocks contain reactive minerals and glasses with high potential for CO2 sequestration. More than 90% of Iceland is made of basalt. The process where CO2 from solidifying magma reacts with calcium from the basalt and forms calcite, occurs naturally and the mineral is stable for thousands of years in geothermal systems. Chemical weathering of basalts at the surface of the Earth is another example of carbon fixation in nature. The proposed experiment will aim at accelerating these natural processes.
3. What happens chemically when the injected CO2 enters the basaltic bedrock?
CO2 dissolves into the groundwater and the pH of the groundwater decreases as a first consequence of injedting CO2. This low pH groundwater leads to a large number of coupled chemical reactions including the dissolution of basalt which both neutralizes the acidic groundwater and leads to the precipitation of stable carbonate minerals and thus the permanent storage of the injected CO2.
4. How fast is the CO2 mineralization in the lab vs. field?
In the lab, McGrail et al. (2006) showed that exposing basalt samples from the Columbia River Basalt (USA) to CO2-saturated water yielded calcium carbonate mineral formation in four to six weeks and extensive mineralization within several months. The CO2 mineralization rate in the field is unknown today. This is the main motivation for the CarbFix project, to conduct the field injection experiment and to monitor the CO2 mineralization rate in situ in the field.
5. How do we know that the CO2 injected will stay captured and not leak into the atmosphere?
The injected CO2 will be monitored and the storage safety will be verified by a set of technologies. These monitoring technologies (e.g. CO2 detectors, soil gas analysis, seismic survey, pressure monitoring, geochemical tracers in groundwater etc.) are critical to measure the amount of CO2 stored at a specific sequestration site, to monitor potential leaks, to track the location of the underground CO2 plume, to detect chemical reaction between CO2, groundwater and rocks, and to verify that the CO2 is stored in a permanent way.
6. What is the status of CO2 mineral storage in the world, is it only happening in Iceland?
Iceland is the ideal place to develop the technology to store CO2 in the subsurface as stable carbonate minerals for several reasons including:
1) Iceland is made up of basalt, a rock that contains abundant divalent metal cations, such as Ca (calsium), Fe (iron) and Mg (magnesium), which are the building blocks for making stable carbonate mineral.
2) Iceland is among the few countries that has the scientific and engineering know-how, due to their long experience in geothermal energy to perform a successful field scale test and develop the technology to export the new technology developed from the CarbFix program.
Besides the CarbFix project in Iceland, the Big Sky Regional Partnership, one of the seven U.S. Department of Energy partnerships for carbon capture and sequestration, is conducting a CO2 injection pilot test in the Columbia River Basalt in NW of the United States to study the in situ mineralization of CO2 (http://www.bigskyco2.org/).
7. Where are the good mineralogical CO2 storage sites?
The mineralization of CO2 requires the availability of divalent cations such as Ca (calsium) , Mg (magnesium), and Fe (iron). Basaltic and peridiotic rocks consist of minerals rich in Ca, Mg and Fe and are therefore ideal for mineralogical storage of CO2. Basalt is the one of the common rock type in Earth’s crust. Over 10% of the continental crust is made up of basalts. Perhaps even more exciting is that most continents are surrounded by massive basalt formations (oceanic crust), just offshore, providing local CO2 storage sites easily accessible for most countries. Basalt formations onshore and offshore together have sufficient storage capacity to contain all human produced CO2 for the foreseeable future.
The universities have enrolled PhD students to work on science projects in the laboratory as well as in the field, closely linked to the CarbFix project.
The reduction of industrial CO2 emissions is considered one of the main challenges of this century. To address this challenge, the CarbFix project is designed to optimize industrial methods for storing CO2 in basaltic rocks through a combined program consisting of, field scale injection of CO2 charged waters into basaltic rocks, laboratory based experiments, large scale plug-flow experiments, study of natural CO2 waters as natural analogue and state of the art geochemical modelling. A second and equally important goal of this research project is to generate the human capital and expertise to apply the advances made in this project in the future.
This research program includes:
1. Field scale injection of CO2 charged waters into basaltic rocks at the Hellisheidi natural laboratory. The Hellisheidi natural laboratory, situated in the Hengill area, SW Iceland, comprises ideal conditions for studying the feasibility of permanent CO2 storage as minerals in basaltic rocks due to availability of CO2 and water, the presence of fresh basalts, suitable geological structures, and an extensive infrastructure.
2. Laboratory experiments research program. The emphasis of this experimental program is to quantify basalt dissolution and carbonate precipitation rates stemming from during CO2 injection.
3. Large scale plug flow experiments. The plug flow reactors will be used to fine tune reactive transport models and they might provide an industrial method for fixing CO2.
4. Studies of natural CO2–rich water reactivity as natural analogue to the behaviour of injected CO2. A significant number of natural sites have experienced basalt interaction with CO2 charges waters. Studies of these systems provide insight into the long-term stability of basalt hosted CO2 storage.
5. Geochemical modelling. Geochemical modelling will be performed to interpret laboratory experiments and field work as well as to predict/optimize the long-term behaviour of CO2 injection sites.
Details and results of this research program, including regular updates, can be found on this website.
Alfredsson, H.A., Hardarson, B.S., Franzson, H., Gislason, S.R. (2008). CO2 sequestration in basaltic rock at the Hellisheidi site in SW Iceland:Stratigraphy and chemical composition of the rocks at the injection site. Mineralogical Magazine 72, 1-5.
Alfredsson H. A., Oelkers E. H., Hadrarson B. S., Franzson H., Gunlaugsson E. and Gislason S. R. (2013) The geology and water chemistry of the Hellisheidi, SW-Iceland carbon storage site. Int. J. Greenhouse Gas Control 12, 399–418.
Aradóttir E. S. P., Sonnenthal E. L. and Jónsson H. I. (2012a) Development and evaluation of a thermodynamic dataset for phases of interest in CO2 sequestration in basaltic rocks. Chem. Geol. 304–305, 26–38.
Aradóttir E. S. P., Sonnenthal E. L., Björnsson G. and Jónsson H. (2012b) Multidimensional reactive transport modeling of CO2 mineral sequestration in basalts at the Hellisheidi geothermal field, Iceland. Int. J. Greenhouse Gas Control9, 24-40.
Domenik Wolff-Boenisch, Wenau, S., Gislason, S, and Oelkers, E. H. 2011 Dissolution of basalts and peridotite in the presence of organic and inorganic ligands, in seawater and under pCO2 pressure at 25°C. Implications for mineral sequestration of carbon dioxide. Geochimica Cosmochima Acta 75, 5510-5525.
Domenik Wolff-Boenisch. (2011). On the buffer capacity of CO2-charged seawater used for carbonation and subsequent mineral sequestration. Energy Procedia, 4, 3738–3745.
Edda S. P. Aradóttir, Hólmfríður Sigurðardóttir, Bergur Sigfússon and Einar Gunnlaugsson 2011. CarbFix: a CCS pilot project imitating and accelerating natural CO2 sequestratioon. Greenhouse Gas Sci Technol. 1: 105-118.
Elísabet Ragnheiðardóttir, Hólmfríður Sigurðardóttir, Helga Kristjánsdóttir and William Harveyd 2011. Opportunities and challenges for CarbFix: An evaluation of capacities and costs for the pilot scale mineralization sequestration project at Hellisheidi, Iceland and beyond. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control. 5: 1065–1072.
Flaathen, T.K., Oelkers, E.H. and Gislason, S.R. (2008). The effect of aqueous sulphate on basaltic glass dissolution rates. Mineralogical Magazine 72, 39-41.
Flaathen, T.K., Gislason, S.R. and Oelkers E.H. (2009). Chemical evolution of the Mt. Hekla, Iceland, groundwaters: A natural analogue for CO2 sequestration in basaltic rocks. Applied Geochemistry, 24, 463-474.
Flaathen, T.K., Gislason, S.R., Oelkers, E.H., 2010. The effect of aqueous sulphate on basaltic glass dissolution rates. Chem. Geol. 277, 345–354.
Flaathen T. K., Oelkers E. H., Gislason S. R. and Aagaard P. (2011) The effect of dissolved sulphate on calcite precipitation kinetics and consequences for subsurface CO2 storage. Energy Procedia 4, 5037–5043.Gysi, A.P., Stefansson, A., 2011. CO2–water–basalt interaction. Numerical simulation of low temperature CO2 sequestration into basalts. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 75, 4728–4751.
Gabrielle J. Stockmann, D. Wolff-Boenisch, S. R. Gíslason & E. H. Oelkers. (2011). Do carbonate precipitates affect dissolution kinetics? 1: Basaltic glass. Chemical Geology 284, 306–316.
Gabrielle J. Stockmann, Liudmila S. Shirokova, Oleg S. Pokrovsky, Pascale Benezeth, Nicolas Bovet, Sigurdur R. Gislason, Eric H. Oelkers. Does the presence of heterotrophic bacterium Pseudomonas reactans affect basaltic glass dissolution rates?. Chemical Geology 296-297 (2012) 1-18.
Gislason, S.R., Wolff-Boenisch, D., Stefansson, A., Oelkers, E.H., Gunnlaugsson, E., Sigurdardottir, H., Sigfusson, B., Broecker, W.S., Matter, J.M., Stute, M., Axelsson, G. and Fridriksson, T. (2010). Mineral sequestration of carbon. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 4, 537-545.
Gudbrandsson, S., Wolff-Boenisch, D., Gíslason, S.R. and Oelkers, E.H.(2008). Dissolution rates of crystalline basalt at pH 4 and 10 and 25-75°C. Mineralogical Magazine 72, 155-158.
Gysi, A.P. and Stefánsson, A. (2008). Numerical modelling of CO2-water-basalt interaction. Mineralogical Magazine 72, 55-59.
Gysi, A.P., Stefansson, A., 2012a. CO2-water-basalt interaction. Low temperature experiments and implications for CO2 sequestration into basalts. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta. 81, 129-152.
Gysi, A.P., Stefansson, A., 2012b. Mineralogical aspects of CO2 sequestration during hydrothermal basalt alteration - An experimental study at 75 to 250 °C and elevated pCO2. Chem. Geol. 306-307, 146–159.
Gysi, A.P., Stefansson, A., 2012c. Experiments and geochemical modeling of CO2 sequestration during hydrothermal basalt alteration. Chem. Geol. 306-307, 10–28.Helgi A. Alfredsson, D. W. Boenisch and A. Stefánsson. (2011). CO2 sequestration in basaltic rocks in Iceland: Development of a piston-type downhole sampler for CO2 rich fluids and tracers. Energy Procedia 4, 3510–3517.
J.M. Matter, Broecker, W., Gislason, S. R., Gunnlaugsson, E., Oelkers, E., Stute, M., Sigurdardóttir, H., Stefansson, A., Wolff-Boenisch, D., Axelsson, G., Sigfússon, B. (2011). The CarbFix Pilot Project – Storing Carbon Dioxide in Basalt. Energy Procedia 4, 5579–5585.
Matter, J.M., Broecker, W.S., Stute, M., Gislason, S.R., Oelkers, E.H., Stefansson, A., Wolff-Boenisch, D., Gunnlaugsson, E., Axelsson, G. and Bjornsson, G. (2009). Permanent Carbon Dioxide Storage into Basalt: The CarbFix Pilot Project, Iceland. Energy Procedia, 1, 3641-3646.
Oelkers E.H., S.R. Gislason, and J. Matter (2008). Mineral Carbonation of CO2, Elements, Vol. 4, 331-335.
Rezvani Khalilabad, M., Axelsson, G. and Gislason, S.R. (2008). Aquifer characterization with tracer test technique; permanent CO2 sequestration into basalt, SW Iceland. Mineralogical Magazine 72, 121 125.
Stockmann, G., Wolff-Boenisch, D., Gíslason, S.R. and Oelkers, E.H. (2008). Dissolution of diopside and basaltic glass: the effect of carbonate coating. Mineralogical Magazine 72, 135-139.
Snorri Gudbrandsson, Wolff-Boenisch, D., Gislason, S. R., and Oelkers, E. H. 2011. An experimental study of crystalline basalt dissolution from 2 = pH = 11 and temperatures from 5 to 75°C. Geochimica Cosmochima Acta 75, 5496-5509.
Stockmann, G.J., Wolff-Boenisch, D., Gislason, S.R., Oelkers, E.H., 2013. Do carbonate precipitates affect dissolution kinetics?
2: Diopside. Chemical Geology 337–338, 55-66.
Flaathen, T.K. 2009. Water-rock interaction during CO2 sequestration in basalt. Oddi, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2009 ISBN: 978-9979-9914-1-0.
Gysi, A.P. 2011. CO2-water-basalt Interaction: Reaction Path Experiments and Numerical Modeling. University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland, 188 pp., ISBN 978-9935-9038-1-5.
Stockmann, G.J. 2012. Experimental study of Basalt carbonatization. Ph.D. thesis, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland, ISBN 978-9935-9038-4-6, 160 pp.
Rezvani Khalilabad, M. 2008. Characterization of the Hellisheidi-Threngsli CO2 sequestration Target Aquifer by Tracer Testing. Oddi, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2008. ISBN: 978-9979-68-252-3. ISSN: 1670-7427
Ragnheidardottir, E.V. 2010. Costs, Profitability and Potential Gains of the CarbFix Program. pp 107.
Annual Status Reports
Original Participating Organizations
European Participating Organizations
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