Iceland’s volcanic plains are more than just otherworldly sights for tourists — the basalt rocks that lay there are about to help resolve the world’s climate emergency.
A team of researchers at the Hellisheiði geothermal plant just outside Reykjavik has managed to capture carbon dioxide emissions and store them in basalt rocks deep underground. Once infused with CO2, the rock traps the emissions forever, without any risk of pollution. The Carbfix Project is secure, cost-efficient, and brings hope to the world’s incapacity to reduce its CO2 emissions.
Andri Magnason, an Icelandic environmentalist, described one of the plant’s carbon injection wells to WBUR. “This captures 50 tons [of C02] a year,” he said. “To get 1,000 gigatons out of the atmosphere, we have to scale this up not 1 million times, but 1 billion times.”
Newer and larger wells, however, will be able to capture 1,000 times more emissions, which could ultimately make a huge impact when it comes to offsetting.
The technology can be exported since basalt is the most common rock on the planet. All that’s needed is CO2 and lots of cold water to make the industrial process work.
“If we’re going to scale this up a million times,” said Magnason, “there will be millions of jobs created.” Kári Helgason, the project’s manager, added, “it will be scaled up. We know it’s going to be scaled up. The question is whether it will be scaled up enough. And how fast.”