Mineralization and CO2 Sequestration in Rocks

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Mineralization refers to the process of reacting CO2 with minerals, typically magnesium or calcium-rich silicate rocks, to form stable carbonate minerals. This natural process occurs over geological timescales, but scientists and engineers are developing technologies to accelerate mineralization, offering a permanent solution for CO2 sequestration.

Impact on climate action

Mineralization and CO2 Sequestration in Rocks offers a transformative solution within CO2 Capture & Storage, enhancing climate action. By converting carbon dioxide into stable minerals within rocks, it ensures long-term containment, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. This innovation fosters sustainable progress, reducing atmospheric CO2 levels and advancing global efforts to combat climate change.

Underlying
Technology

Mineralization technologies rely on several scientific principles and engineering approaches:

  • Geochemical Reactions: CO2 reacts with alkaline earth metals, such as calcium and magnesium, present in silicate rocks, forming carbonate minerals like calcite, magnesite, and dolomite.
  • Accelerated Mineralization: Various methods are used to accelerate mineralization, including:
    • In-situ Mineralization: Injecting CO2 into geological formations rich in reactive minerals, promoting mineralization within the rock matrix.
    • Ex-situ Mineralization: Reacting CO2 with crushed rocks or industrial byproducts rich in minerals in controlled environments, producing carbonate minerals for various applications.
  • CO2 Dissolution and Transport: Dissolved CO2 is transported through the rock formation by groundwater flow, coming into contact with reactive minerals and promoting carbonate precipitation.
  • Reaction Kinetics Enhancement: Techniques such as increasing pressure and temperature, adjusting pH, and using catalysts can enhance the rate of mineralization reactions.
  • Storage Site Characterization: Geochemical and geophysical analysis is crucial for identifying and characterizing suitable rock formations with high mineralization potential.

TRL : Varies (4-7) depending on specific technology and application.

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Electrochemical Mineralization: Using electricity to drive mineralization reactions can enhance reaction rates and offer potential for integration with renewable energy sources.
  • Biologically Enhanced Mineralization: Utilizing microbes that promote carbonate precipitation can accelerate mineralization and improve CO2 storage efficiency.
  • Mineralization with Industrial Byproducts: Reacting CO2 with industrial byproducts, such as steel slag or mine tailings, that contain reactive minerals can offer a cost-effective way to utilize waste materials while sequestering carbon.
  • Mineralization for Building Materials: Carbonate minerals produced through mineralization can be used as building materials, such as aggregates for concrete or cement substitutes, creating a circular carbon economy.
  • Ocean Mineralization: Exploring the potential of storing CO2 in oceanic basalt formations, where CO2 reacts with basalt to form stable carbonates, offering a vast storage capacity.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Geochemical Reactivity of CO2
  • In-situ Accelerated Mineralization
  • Ex-situ Mineralization Techniques
  • CO2 Dissolution and Transport Mechanisms
  • Enhancing Reaction Kinetics for Mineralization
  • Characterization of Mineralization Sites
  • Electrochemical CO2 Mineralization
  • Biologically Mediated Mineralization
  • Utilizing Industrial Byproducts for Mineralization
  • Carbonate Minerals for Building Materials
  • Oceanic Basalt CO2 Sequestration
  • Microbial Carbonate Precipitation
  • Waste Material Utilization in Mineralization
  • CO2 Mineralization for Concrete Production
  • Sustainable Cement Substitute Production
  • Potential of Oceanic CO2 Storage
  • Geophysical Analysis for Mineralization Sites
  • Enhanced CO2 Sequestration Technologies

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Carbfix:
    • Technology Focus: Carbfix specializes in carbon capture and storage (CCS) by mineralizing CO2 into carbonate minerals, primarily using basaltic rocks. They inject CO2 into underground geological formations where it reacts with the basalt, turning into stable minerals over time.
    • Uniqueness: Carbfix’s approach is unique in its utilization of natural mineralization processes to permanently sequester CO2, offering a scalable and environmentally friendly solution to mitigate carbon emissions.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions are particularly relevant for industries with significant CO2 emissions, such as power generation, cement production, steel manufacturing, and other heavy industries.
  • Carbon8 Systems:
    • Technology Focus: Carbon8 Systems focuses on converting carbon emissions into valuable products through mineralization processes. They capture CO2 from industrial sources and combine it with alkaline residues or waste materials to produce stable carbonate products.
    • Uniqueness: Carbon8 Systems stands out for its innovative approach of turning CO2 emissions into useful products while simultaneously sequestering carbon in solid form, contributing to circular economy principles.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions can be beneficial for industries with CO2-intensive processes, such as cement manufacturing, waste incineration, steel production, and power plants.
  • Green Minerals:
    • Technology Focus: Green Minerals specializes in mineral carbonation technology for CO2 sequestration, utilizing naturally occurring minerals or industrial by-products to capture and store carbon dioxide permanently.
    • Uniqueness: Green Minerals may differentiate itself through its focus on utilizing a variety of mineral sources for carbonation, offering flexibility and scalability in carbon capture and storage solutions.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions could be relevant for industries seeking cost-effective and sustainable methods to reduce carbon emissions, including cement, steel, waste management, and energy production sectors.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Columbia University:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Columbia University are working on enhancing mineralization processes to accelerate the capture and storage of CO2 in rocks. They are developing novel catalysts and reaction pathways to facilitate the conversion of CO2 into stable mineral forms, such as carbonates, within geological formations.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Columbia University’s approach involves a combination of experimental and computational methods to optimize the mineralization process. They are studying the geochemical reactions involved in CO2 sequestration and exploring innovative strategies to enhance reaction kinetics and mineral trapping mechanisms.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Columbia University has implications for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects aimed at mitigating climate change. By enhancing the efficiency and permanence of CO2 sequestration in rocks, this technology can help reduce atmospheric CO2 levels and transition towards a more sustainable energy system.
  2. University of Iceland:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Iceland are focusing on harnessing the unique geological properties of volcanic rocks for CO2 mineralization and storage. They are studying natural analogs of CO2-rich mineral deposits to understand the mechanisms of CO2 capture and identify suitable geological formations for large-scale storage.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The University of Iceland’s research capitalizes on Iceland’s geothermal and volcanic activity to develop cost-effective and environmentally sustainable CO2 storage solutions. They are investigating the feasibility of injecting CO2 into volcanic rocks for long-term storage and monitoring the mineralization process using geophysical and geochemical techniques.
    • End-use Applications: The research at the University of Iceland has implications for countries with abundant volcanic resources seeking to implement CCS technologies. By utilizing natural geological formations for CO2 storage, this technology offers a scalable and economically viable solution for reducing CO2 emissions from industrial and power generation sources.
  3. University of British Columbia:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of British Columbia are exploring innovative methods for enhancing CO2 mineralization rates and efficiency in rock formations. They are investigating the use of advanced materials, such as nanostructured catalysts and reactive additives, to accelerate the carbonation of rocks and enhance CO2 storage capacity.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The University of British Columbia’s research combines expertise in materials science, geochemistry, and environmental engineering to develop next-generation CO2 mineralization technologies. They are studying the influence of mineral composition, pore structure, and fluid-rock interactions on CO2 sequestration kinetics and exploring novel strategies for optimizing storage performance.
    • End-use Applications: The research at the University of British Columbia has implications for CCS projects in diverse geological settings, including depleted oil and gas reservoirs, saline aquifers, and basaltic formations. By developing tailored solutions for CO2 mineralization and storage, this technology can contribute to the decarbonization of energy-intensive industries and facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Mineralization technology is moving from research to commercial implementation:

  • Carbfix: Their in-situ mineralization technology is being deployed at the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Iceland, capturing and storing CO2 emissions.
  • Carbon8 Systems: Their ACT technology is being used to produce carbon-negative aggregates for concrete production at a commercial scale in the UK.