Magnesite can naturally store carbon dioxide, but it is a slow and long process. Scientists have discovered a new way of creating magnesite. If they can develop it on an industrial scale, it can help remove CO2 from the atmosphere and lower the global warming effect.
This study was recently presented at the Goldschmidt conference that took place in Boston.
So far, many researchers have found different ways of slowing global warming by reducing the CO2 from the atmosphere.
In this study led by Professor Ian Power (Trent University, Ontario, Canada), the team found that magnesite forms at low temperature and its crystallization can be accelerated:
“Our work shows two things. Firstly, we have explained how and how fast magnesite forms naturally.”
However, he explains that the magnesite from the Earth’s surface takes hundreds to thousands of years to form. Power adds that the team demonstrated “a pathway which speeds this process up dramatically.”
A ton of natural magnesite can remove almost half a ton of CO2 from the atmosphere.
The “science makes it do-able”
The researchers formed magnesite in just 72 days after using as catalyst polystyrene microspheres.
“Using microspheres means that we were able to speed up magnesite formation by orders of magnitude. This process takes place at room temperature, meaning that magnesite production is extremely energy efficient,” added Power.
Power admits that their project is an experimental process that will have to be scaled up before they’re sure that “magnesite can be used in carbon sequestration,” and that the next steps will depend on many factors like “the price of carbon and the refinement of the sequestration technology.” However, he is satisfied with the fact that they could speed up the process of magnesite production and the “science makes it do-able”.
Professor Peter Kelemen (Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University) stated that the project’s finding is important and it can potentially offer “a benign and relatively inexpensive route to carbon storage, and perhaps even direct CO2 removal from air.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.