Reduce CO2 by mineral carbonation

Reluctant to reduce their energy consumption, the United States are looking for technical means to limit the resulting greenhouse gas emissions without significant additional cost, for example by capturing these gases at the source. The country, which has reserves of fossil fuels for about a century, prefers to consume "clean" rather than less. At the Goldwater Laboratory at Arizona State University, Andrew Chizmeshya and Michael McKelvy are studying a process for neutralizing carbon dioxide (CO2) by combining it, under high temperature, with two minerals available in large quantities (olivine and serpentine) in an aqueous solution of sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride. The reaction produces magnesium carbonate, a stable compound that can easily be stored. At the moment, the minerals need to be pretreated to prevent a kind of crust from forming on the surface which significantly slows down the reaction. But these precautions increase the cost of the device, estimated at around $ 70 per tonne while the target is $ 10. The two researchers, who work with a dozen scientists from four other laboratories, have thus developed a micro reactor (for which they have filed a patent application) in order to observe the process of mineral carbonation at the atomic level and to see how to break the offending crust as it forms. This work could also pave the way for the development of an asbestos fiber reprocessing sector. Globally, the Department of Energy spends some $ 80 million a year to fund 65 research projects on CO2 capture and storage, to which is added $ 18 million from the Department of Agriculture - two positions in increase in the Bush administration's most recent budget.

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