Icelandic, American and French scientists are now planning to investigate the feasibility of storing carbon in basalt layers in the ocean floor off Iceland’s southern coast. They hope they can execute their project within a few years.
Research Professor Sigurdur Reynir Gíslason at the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences told Morgunbladid that the rocky layers in the ocean floor off south Iceland have the potential to store a vast amount of carbon.
The idea involves storing a considerable amount of carbon dioxide by isolating it from the exhaust of companies, purifying it and then pumping it in the form of carbon-rich sea water into holes that have been drilled into basalt layers in the ocean floor.
There the carbon-rich sea water will release chemicals from the basalt, create compounds with the carbon and become carbon minerals that could remain stable for thousands of years.
This method has been experimented with in drilling holes by the geothermal power plant on Hellisheidi heath between Reykjavík and Selfoss, south Iceland.
Gíslason said the method could be used by companies in south Iceland and on Reykjanes peninsula which emit a considerable amount of carbon dioxide, especially current and planned aluminum smelters.
Trading with carbon dioxide emission quotas may happen in the near future, and Gíslason believes the idea of storing carbon below the ocean surface could also become part of such trade models.
Icelandic energy companies with operations in Africa and Indian authorities have already shown interest in the method, which could be used in every part of the world where the ocean floor is made of basalt.
The project is a cooperation between the University of Iceland, the Columbia University in New York, Reykjavík Energy (OR) and the Paul Sabatier University in France.