Scientists have found a method to produce magnesite. It has the property to store carbon dioxide. Scientists believe that if the mineral can be manufactured on an industrial scale, it can be very useful in removing CO2 from the atmosphere for long-term storage which will help to counter the affect of global warming caused by CO2. This work is shown at the Goldschmidt conference in Boston.
Scientists are already trying their best to build technology to slow down global warming caused by CO2. But there are some serious practical and economic limitations on developing the technology.
Researchers have found for the first time, how to make magnesite at low temperature and also offered a route to dramatically accelerating its crystallization. It is believed that one tonne of naturally-occurring magnesite can remove around half a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere. However the rate of formation is very slow.
The scientists were able to show two things. Firstly, how and how fast magnesite forms naturally. It takes around hundreds to thousands of years to form at Earth’s surface. The second things is that they have demonstrated a pathway which speeds up this process drastically.
By using polystyrene microspheres as a catalyst, the magnesite formation process takes only 72 days. The microspheres do not change during the production process. Hence they have a chance to be reused.
The scientists said that they were able to speed up magnesite formation by orders of magnitude. The process takes place at room temperature which makes magnesite production extremely energy efficient.
This however is an experimental process and would have to be scaled up before magnesite can be used in carbon sequestration. Sequestration is the process of taking CO2 from the atmosphere and permanently storing it as magnesite. There are certain factors which would have to be deeply looked into like the price of carbon and the refinement of the sequestration technology. But science can definitely make this possible. Its just a matter of some more research work.
Professor Peter Kelemen from the Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in New York said that it is really very exciting that this group of scientists has worked out the mechanism of natural magnesite crystallization at room temperatures. The potential for accelerating the process is also very important which potentially offers a relatively cheaper route to carbon storage and may be even direct removal of CO2 from the air.