New Carbon Capture And Storage Project In Canada Will Turn CO2 Into Rock

Credit: en:User:Calkan

Carbon capture and storage in Vancouver will help the world’s push towards sequestering excess CO2 emissions. The University of Victoria and its Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and Ocean Networks Canada divisions are getting ready for a new demo carbon capture and permanent storage project. 

It offers great potential as it could eventually lead to the sequestering of gigatons of CO2 emissions globally. The technology used will collect CO2 from the atmosphere and pump it through a pipe to holes deep underground where the emissions will crystallize into rock over time. 

There is already a similar carbon capture plant in Iceland, turning CO2 into solid carbonate rock but at a much smaller scale. 

“The potential is enormous,” said Kate Moran, president of Ocean Networks Canada and lead on the Solid Carbon Project. She also added many of the systems about to be used in the demo project already exist and “several” of the oil and gas companies see it “as a transfer of their business and workers into green businesses.”

Costs And Potential

The cost of the demonstration project would be between $30 – $60 million, including investments from private companies and possibly governments. It will sequester the emissions off the coast of Vancouver Island under the Cascadia Basin and could be ready by 2024. 

The carbon capture technology also includes a floating drilling platform with turbines gathering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and directly injecting it into deep ocean basalt formation. There, the gas would react with minerals and turn into rock over time, with hundreds of meters of sediment acting as a sealant.

According to scientists, the potential of the methods is astonishing as 90% of the ocean crust is basaltic rock – a porous formation from cooling volcanic lava which means enormous amounts of emissions could be locked this way. They also claim that would put a ­“serious dent” in the 51 gigatons of greenhouse gasses emitted by humans every year. 

As compared to the Carbfix project in Iceland that also injects CO2 underground to mineralize, the results show that its method of rapid mineralization using dissolved CO2 is water-intensive, costly, and difficult to scale up. 

“The reaction doesn’t have to be completed in days or even months, as long as the CO2 doesn’t escape before the process is complete, even if it takes centuries,” according to University of Calgary associate professor Ben Tutolo. 

He also claims the carbon capture cost is lower thus the technology of sequestration into sea-floor basalts is more scalable and could help make a “significant dent” in atmospheric concentrations of CO2. That is also due to the fact that ocean basalt formations have the capacity to store up to 250,000 gigatons which gives a lot of chances for utilization.

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