Scientists have come up with a smart but simple way to deal with carbon dioxide emissions, by turning them back into stone. Researchers in Iceland pumped 220 tons of CO2 deep underground into volcanic rock. It reacted with minerals in the rock and over a relatively short space of time, transformed into a chalk-like solid substance similar to limestone. The team expressed their surprise at both the success and the speed of the CO2 conversion. Lead scientist Juerg Matter said: "Of our 220 tons of injected CO2, 95 per cent was converted to limestone in less than two years." He added: "It was a huge surprise to all the scientists involved in the project, and we thought, 'Wow! This is really fast'."
The scientists hope their experiment will be adapted on a larger, more industrial scale. It could help to alleviate the problem of growing CO2 emissions entering the atmosphere and warming the planet. It could also become a key technique in carbon capture and storage (CCS) solutions. Many other CCS techniques have involved injecting and trapping CO2 underground. However, there was always the problem of the emissions leaking their way back above ground and into the atmosphere. Dr Matter was enthusiastic about his team's experiments. He said: "We need to deal with rising carbon emissions and this is the ultimate permanent storage – turn them back to stone."