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Trapping CO2 as mineral carbonates (part 1)

Carbfix, a carbon capture company headquartered in Iceland, promises the cheapest capture process in the world.

Their approach is simple. First, situate your CO2 emitter on top of porous, volcanic rock, ideally with easy and abundant access to water.. Second, pressurize the flue gas in the presence of that water, to dissolve the CO2 within it. Third, inject the water into the ground below.

The water will penetrate the pores of the volcanic rock, and react with calcium and magnesium ions within it to form mineral carbonates, trapping the CO2 effectively for eternity. Carbfix has found that this reaction is roughly 95% complete within two years, at least in their initial tests. The process is cheaper than any competitors because the pressures required are relatively low (just 25 atmospheres), and the process is dirt simple. And significantly, the long term maintenance, monitoring, and verification costs are far lower. The estimated cost of the Carbfix process is just $25/ton.

The downside is that it is geographically somewhat limited.

Of course, with direct air capture (DAC), location does not matter, as every location on the planet has somewhat equal access to air. The trick is that for these approaches to work, the rock has to be brought to the CO2, rather than the CO2 to the rock. This is more expensive, as I'll explore in my next post.

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