The CarbFix Project
The CarbFix Project
CarbFix is a collaborative research project between Reykjavik Energy, the University of Iceland, Columbia University and CNRS that aims at developing safe, simple and economical methods and technology for permanent CO2 mineral storage in basalts. The CarbFix team had demonstrated that over 95% of CO2 captured and injected at Hellisheidi geothermal Power Plant in Iceland was mineralized within two years. This contrasts the previous common view that mineralization in CCS projects takes hundreds to thousands of years. Industrial scale capture and injection have been ongoing at the power plant since 2012.
CarbFix has received world attention on today's publication in Science. Media around the world have published news of the project's groundbreaking results that permanent immobilization of CO2 can be achieved in two years by applying the
The core that was drilled into the CarbFix pilot injection site in 2014 is a part of the Infinite Next exhibition at the Living Art Museum in Reykjavík, Iceland. Works in the exhibition deal in different ways with systems which all societies strug
The CarbFix project started at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant in 2007.
In conjunction with the Iceland Geothermal Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland April 26-28, 2016, the World Bank held a roundtable on its Global Geothermal Development Plan.
The OR Group was nominated for the Nordic Council Nature and Environment Prize in 2015. The company’s contribution was the CarbFix project as well as the savings in carbon emissions obtained by the Group’s district heating systems.
The CarbFix team recently published a paper on the dissolved CO2 injection system developed within the CarbFix project.
As a part of the FP7 funded CarbFix project (no. 283148), the CarbFix team has created improved computer accessible databases describing the thermodynamics and kinetics of fluid-rock interaction during carbon-capture and storage efforts. The databases are open source and can be downloaded below.
A thermodynamic dataset describing 36 mineral reactions of interest for CO2–water–basalt interaction associated with CO2 mineral sequestration was assessed and generated. Mineral selection for the dataset was based on extensive review of natural analogs of water–basalt interaction at low and elevated CO2 conditions. Widely used thermodynamic databases did not contain the mineral assemblage needed for successfully simulating the alteration processes observed in nature as important primary and secondary minerals were found to be missing.
The EQ3/6 V7.2b database was the primary source for aqueous equilibrium constants in the developed dataset but reactions for four missing Al-hydroxy complexes were added. Recently published thermodynamic data were compiled for most of the minerals considered in this study. Mineral solubility constants obtained directly from measurements were compiled to the dataset without modification but SUPCRT92 was used for computing solubility constants when such data was not available. To verify that the presented dataset can capture alterations observed in nature, simulations of CO2–water–basalt interaction were carried out at low and elevated CO2 conditions and compared to observed basalt alteration in Iceland and Greenland. Overall simulated and observed alteration are in close agreement, both at low and elevated CO2 conditions, suggesting the dataset to be well suited for simulations of e.g. CO2–water–basalt interaction associated with CO2 mineral sequestration in basalts.
Click the document below to access the thermodynamic database.
A general database of the current state of knowledge of the rates of mineral dissolution and precipitation reactions has been created by the CarbFix team over the past three years. The database currently contains more than 110 rock forming minerals, and has been put into general form such that it can be readily applied by the scientific community to assess the potential of fluid-rock interactions during carbon capture and storage efforts.
This database was created by first collecting and correlating the existing kinetic rate data available in the scientific literature. In cases where adequate fits of these data were already available in the literature, such fits were adopted in this study. In other cases we have sought to provide a quantitative description of these data consistent with what is known about the dissolution and/or precipitation mechanism of the minerals. The resulting and adopted equations have been incorporated into a PHREEQC enabled computer script to all it to be applied directly in conjunction with this geochemical modelling code. Note that PHREEQC is widely available geochemical computer modelling code, originally created at the US Geological Survey and available free to any potential user via the web,
Click the document below to access the kinetic database.
Reducing industrial CO2 emissions is considered one of the main challenges of this century. By capturing CO2 from variable sources and injecting it into suitable deep rock formations, the carbon released is returned back where it was extracted instead of freeing it to the atmosphere. This technology might help to mitigate climate change as injecting CO2 at carefully selected geological sites with large potential storage capacity can be a long lasting and environmentally benign storage solution.
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, 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 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 will be performed to interpret laboratory experiments and field work as well as to predict/optimize the long-term behavior of CO2 injection sites.
Details and results of this research program, including regular updates, can be found on this website.
The CarbFix team
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 received 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.
The CarbFix team
CarbFix is managed by an appointed management team and the project's scientific steering committee:
The MT consists of 3 (three) members. Orkuveita Reykjavikur appoints 1 (one), the Chairman of the Management Team, and the SSC elects 2 (two) individuals to be on the MT for a period of 2 (two) years at a time. Upon request of any Participant, the 2 representatives elected by SSC on the Management Team will rotate among the Participants, each for a two-year period.
Hólmfríður Sigurðardóttir (Chairman) - Head of Environmental Affairs - Reykjavik Energy, Iceland - holmfridur.sigurdardottir (at) or.is
Juerg M. Matter - Doherty Associate Research Scientist - Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, USA - jmatter (at) ldeo.columbia.edu
Andri Stefánsson - Associated Professor at the Institute of Earth Sciences - University of Iceland - as (at) hi.is
The PM is appointed by the Management Team and ist fourth member on the Management Team, but with no voting rights.
Edda Sif Aradóttir - Project Manager - Reykjavik Energy - edda.sif.aradottir (at) or.is
Scientific Steering Committee
The SSC mutually work towards the Goal and Objectives for the Project. The SSC is responsible for (i) overall coordination and fostering collaboration among the individual research projects being performed by the Participants; (ii) monitoring the overall progress of the Project and addressing issues as they arise; (iii) selecting research projects that will be funded through the “General Funds” and (iv) electing 2 members of the Management Team. SSC members are responsible for acquiring all relevant expertise needed beyond the capabilities of the members on the committee.
The SSC consists of 4 (four) members and a personal substitute member for each member. The representative appointed by University of Iceland on the SSC is automatically the Chairman of the SSC.
Sigurður Reynir Gíslason (Chairman) - Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland - Research Professor - sigrg (at) raunvis.hi.is
Wallace S. Broecker - Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory - broecker (at) ldeo.columbia.edu
Eric H. Oelkers - Research Director - Chemistry and Earth Science - CNRS UMR 5563 / Universtié Paul Sabatier, France - oelkers (at) lmt.obs-mip.fr
Einar Gunnlaugsson - Manager of Geothermal Research - Reykjavik Energy, Iceland - einar.gunnlaugsson (at) or.is
Other members of the CarbFix team
Eiríkur Hjálmarsson - Reykjavík Energy -eirikur.hjalmarsson (at) or.is
Fidel Grandia - Amphos 21 - fidel.grandia (at) amphos21.com
Guðni Axelsson - Head of Physics Department - Íslenskar orkurannsóknir - ga (at) isor.is
Ingvi Gunnarsson - Geochemist, New Power Projects, Research - Reykjavik Energy -ingvi.gunnarsson (at) or.is
Jordi Bruno - Amphos21
Knud Dideriksen - NanoGeoScience - University of Copenhagen -knud (at) nano.ku.dk
Magnús Þór Arnarson - Chemical Engineer, M.Sc. - Hydropower and Industry - Mannvit Engineering - magnusa (at) mannvit.is
Martin Stute - Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Environmental Science - Co-chair, Department of Environmental Science - Barnard College, Columbia University - Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University - martin (at) ldeo.columbia.edu
Selma Olsen - Reykjavík Energy - selma.olsen (at) or.is
Susan Stipp - NanoGeoScience - University of Copenhagen - stipp (at) nano.ku.dk
Trausti Kristinsson - Reykjavík Energy - trausti.kristinsson (at) or.is
Liana Benning - University of Leeds
Bénedicte Ménez - IPGP
The following Ph.D. Students are working or have finished projects related to the CarbFix Project:
Sandra Ósk Snæbjörnsdóttir - Ph.D. student - Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland - Title of Ph.D. Thesis: Field injection experiments and storage capacity estimate. Ph.D. Supervisor: Sigurður Reynir Gíslason.
Alexandra Murata (undergraduate student) - Columbia University
Bailey Griswold (undergraduate student) - Columbia University
Jennifer Hall (graduate student) - Columbia University
Alexandra Bausch (lab technician) - Columbia University
Alexander Gysi - Ph.D. student - Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland - apg2 (at) hi.is - Has defended thesis - Title of Ph.D. Thesis: Experimental and numerical modelling of CO2-water-basalt interaction - Ph.D. Supervisor: Andri Stefansson
Gabrielle J. Stockmann - Ph.D. graduate - Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland - gjs3 (at) hi.is - Defended thesis in May 2012 - Title of Ph.D. Thesis: Experimental determination of the effect of precipitated mineral coatings on the rates of basaltic mineral and glass dissolution rates - Ph.D. Supervisor: Domenik Wolff-Boenisch, Sigurdur Gislason and Eric Oelkers
Edda S.P. Aradóttir - Ph.D. graduate - Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland - edda.sif.aradottir (at) or.is - Defended thesis in Oct 2011 - Title of Ph.D. Thesis: Reactive Transport models of CO2-water-basalt interaction and applications to CO2-mineral sequestration. Supervisors: Hannes Jónsson, Eric L. Sonnenthal and Grímur Björnsson.
Helgi Arnar Alfreðsson - Ph.D. student - Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland - haa4 (at) hi.is - Title of Ph.D. Thesis: Characterization of the rocks and fluids, before and after CO2 injection, at the Hellisheidi Iceland site - Ph.D. Supervisor: Sigurdur Gislason, Björn Hardarson, Hjalti Franzson, Domenik Wolff-Boenisch, Andri Stefansson
Iwona Galeczka - Ph.D. student - Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland - img3 (at) hi.is - Title of Ph.D. Thesis: Experimental studies on the sequestration of CO2 in basaltic rocks - Ph.D. Supervisor: Domenik Wolff-Boenisch, Sigurdur Gislason, Andri Stefansson
Kiflom Gebrehiwot Mesfin - Ph.D. student - Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland - Title of Ph.D. Thesis: Mineral sequestration of carbon dioxide from geothermal activities in seawater. - Ph.D. Supervisors: Domenik Wolff-Boenisch and Sigurdur Reynir Gislason
Snorri Guðbrandsson - Ph.D. student - Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland - snorgud (at) hi.is - Title of Ph.D. Thesis: Dissolution rates of crystalline basalt as a function of temperature, pressure and solution composition - Ph.D. Supervisor: Domenik Wolff-Boenisch, Sigurdur Gislason and Eric Oelkers
Therese Kaarbo Flaathen - Ph.D. Graduate - Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland - therese (at) hi.is - Defended thesis in September 2009 - Title of Ph.D. Thesis: Natural analogue for CO2 fixation in basalt and the effect of sulphur on the dissolution rate of basalt and precipitation rate of carbonates - Ph.D. Supervisor: Sigurdur Gislason, Eric Oelkers
Jonas Olsson – Ph.D. student - University of Copenhagen - jolsson (at)hi.is - Title of Ph.D. Thesis (working title): The mobility of heavy metals in natural waters. - Name of thesis supervisor: Susan Louise Svane Stipp and Sigurður Reynir Gíslason.
Olivier BOSC – Ph.D. student - Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse - boscolivier (at) hotmail.com - Title of Thesis: Experimental characterization of carbonate precipitation rates and their application to carbon sequestration - Thesis supervisor: Dr. Eric H. Oelkers
Julien Declercq - Ph.D. - Université Paul Sabatier - declercq (at) get.obs-mip.fr
The following M.Sc. students have finished projects related to CarbFix Project:
Elísabet Vilborg Ragnheiðardóttir - M.Sc. Graduate, REYST - elisabet.vilborg.sigurdardottir (at) reyst.is - Defended thesis in January 2010 - Title of M.Sc. Thesis: Costs, Profitability and Potential Gains of the CarbFix Program
Mahnaz Rezvani Khalil Abad - M.Sc. Graduate, University of Iceland - mar7 (at) hi.is - Defended thesis in September 2008 - Title of M.Sc. Thesis: Characterization of the Hellisheidi-Threngsli CO2 sequestration target aquifer by tracer testing
Diana Fernandez de la Reguera – M.Sc. Graduate, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, US - diana (at) ldeo.columbia.edu - Title of Thesis: Monitoring and verification of geologic CO2 storage using tracer techniques - Ph.D. Supervisor: Jurg Matter, Martin Stute
Luke Brough – M.Sc. Student, University of Waterloo/University of Copenhagen - lgbrough (at) gmail.com - Title: CO2 seqestration in basalt at ambient temperature and pressure - Supervisors: David Blowes, Richard Amos, Susan L. S. Stipp, Knud Dideriksen
Inger Aaberg – M.Sc. Student, University of Copenhagen - iaaberg (at) nano.ku.dk - Title: Mineral carbonation of CO2 –characterization of olivines during and after reaction using high resolution techniques - Supervisors: Susan L. S. Stipp, Emil Makovicky, Knud Dideriksen
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.
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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.
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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.
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Annual Status Reports
The International Carbon Conference 2014
Original Participating Organizations
European Participating Organizations
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Description of the logo
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has become a major issue in the wake of global warming and discussions on effective actions that have to be implemented to reduce the impact of industrial activities on the climate. There are different CCS approaches, however, and a principal aspect of my design was to visualize and transmit the solidness of the CarbFix project in the sense of precipitating solid CO2 as carbonate underground, quite the contrary to the commonly encountered trapping of gaseous CO2 in depleted oil/gas reservoirs. The fundamental difference lies in the physical state of the sequestered CO2 with all implications as to long-term safety and reliability of these different CCS techniques.
Thus, the notion of solidity is a crucial feature distinguishing this project from other CCS plans and in order to visualize this key point a rectangle was placed in the centre of the logo. A filled rectangle conveys best this impression of hardness/strength of a solid phase quite in contrast to a gas. This element points evidently downwards and can be interpreted as representing the wells and the CO2-supersaturated fluid phase that is pumped underground. The subsequent carbon mineralization process is also insinuated by stark black letters.
In order for the logo not to appear too static, however, I added a ring to the design. This ring has two functions: It depicts the surface that has to be intersected/drilled to get down to the repository and thus puts the tilted bar into context by giving it an orientation. At the same time the ring as well as the change in its width conveys movement to the logo. This dynamics is another essential feature of the CarbFix project as it includes not only a cooperation between industry and academia but between different countries and this cooperation entails a continuous flux of know-how and experimental results in order to find the best possible solution to this challenging project. As to the chosen colors, the green color is very typical of Icelandic moss and grey/black are ubiquitous colors in the volcanic countryside. Both colors are therefore intimately related to the storage environment of this pilot study, i.e., Icelandic basaltic rocks.
Designed by Marijo Murillo Graphic Designer (firstname.lastname@example.org)