"Ability to quantify the mechanisms of organic molecule control on mineral behaviour would provide predictive ability, a key for solving the serious Earth science challenges society faces. This has been difficult because molecular scale processes are often beyond resolution limits but even tiny amounts of an organic compound can dramatically alter mineral properties. My overall objective is to gain previously inaccessible insight into the controls on dissolution and growth in the silicate system, with new, custom built instruments that ""see"" at scales ranging from atomic to macroscopic. My hypothesis is that - by learning from nature - we can develop a universal, conceptual framework for organic molecule activity and from that, tailor them to do as we wish. I chose silicates because basalt mineralises CO2, converting it effectively to carbonate phases, as the Iceland CarbFix method shows - but partly weathered, old, cold basalt is less reactive. My specific objective is to tailor organic molecules to enhance basalt dissolution and carbonate mineral growth, while inhibiting Al-silicates, especially clay and zeolites, which steal cations and block pores. DRIAD will:
1) develop mechanistic insight for controlling mineral-fluid interaction;
2) produce the first, systematic overview of silicate mineral dissolution, defining precise conditions for cation leaching or Al and Si solvation;
3) build a state-of-the-art laboratory for mechanistic studies of fluid-rock interaction at molecular scale and the first ever lab for 4D study of internal rock structure, during reaction, at nm to cm scale;
4) create a new paradigm in the climate change challenge - cheap, permanent CO2 mineralisation in old, cold basalts, globally.
Even if only partly successful, the new, conceptual framework for organic-mineral interaction will change the game for solving challenges in geoscience and provide insight for medicine (bones, drug delivery) and advanced functional materials (designer crystals)."
Fields of science
- HORIZON.1.1 - European Research Council (ERC) Main Programme