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Monday, March 9, 2009

Using Rocks to Absorb CO2 from The Air

Geologists from Columbia University and the U.S. Geological Survey have mapped several large rock formations in the U.S. that could potentially absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2).


Outcrops of ultramafic rocks.

Ultramafic rocks in the United States could be enough to stash more than 500 years of U.S. carbon dioxide production, according to lead author Sam Krevor, who is a graduate student working through the Earth Institute's Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy.


"We're trying to show that anyone within a reasonable distance of these rock formations could use this process to sequester as much carbon dioxide as possible," said Krevor.


Most of the rock formations (see the map associated with the press release) are clustered in strips along the more populated east and west coasts.


These ultramafic rocks form in the earth's mantle, between twelve and hundreds of miles under the surface.


When the rocks are exposed to carbon dioxide they react and form common limestone and chalk.


The drawback of natural mineral carbonization is its slow pace (thousands of years), but scientists are testing out new ways to speed up the process.

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