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Geologic Carbon Storage

Final Report Summary - CO2-REACT (Geologic Carbon Storage)

Effective capture and storage of CO2 from the atmosphere requires close collaboration between academia and industry. Academic institutions possess experimental and analytical expertise in quantifying the rates and impacts of CO2-rich fluid-solid interactions, while industry excels in applying this work to CO2 injection in the subsurface. The CO2-REACT ITN was designed to address this challenge of academic-industrial collaboration by combining research based training for 13 early stage researchers in mineral synthesis, geothermal energy, chemical modelling and gas and radioactive waste storage, emphasising the link between laboratory experiments and practical applications.

In total, our CO2-REACT (Geologic carbon storage) ITN brought together six academic and six industrial research teams, conducting a series of interconnected research initiatives focused on characterising the rates of reactions creating CO2-bearing minerals. CO2-REACT members worked together with another EU-funded sister project (CARBFIX) to develop and demonstrate how to capture and rapidly store CO2 as a mineral formed in the subsurface.

CO2-REACT combined observations of real rock cores with experiments exploring mineral fluid interactions to predict the fate and impact of CO2 once it was injected into the subsurface. Results were tested at the field scale at the CARBFIX pilot site in Hellisheidi, Iceland and on limestone and chalk cores.

Our project developed new technology that accelerated carbonation of CO2 by first dissolving the CO2 gas into water and then injecting it into the subsurface. This has two advantages: firstly, CO2 charged water is denser than pure water, so it tends to sink. Secondly, the acidic CO2-charged water promotes reactions in the subsurface, specifically the dissolution of basalt, which in turn leads to the fixation of carbon as stable mineral phases. Once it is made into a mineral the carbon is immobile over geologic time frames, representing a safe, long time solution for CO2 storage. This technology was out to use in collaboration with the CarbFix EC project and our partner Reykjavik Energy, where we ran a pilot CO2 injection plant that successfully demonstrated the rapid carbonisation of carbon injected into reactive basalt at an industrial scale. The original injection was shown to fix over 90 % of the injected 170 tons of pure CO2 as stable carbonate minerals in less than 18 months. Once it is made into a mineral the carbon is immobile over geologic time frames, representing a safe, long time solution for CO2 storage. Furthermore, economic studies show that this would cost in the order of 30-50 US dollars (USD) per ton, which is no more expensive than other less safe alternatives. The results of this effort was published in over 100 articles in the international press in 2016 near the end of our project.

CO2-REACT early stage researchers also developed and field tested novel gas membrane portable instruments for assessing the potential leakage of CO2 through caprocks to the surface. The results were used to calibrate computer models of CO2 transport escaping from caprock towards the subsurface. In addition, scientists developed improved 2 and 3-dimensional reactive transport models to predict the long term fate and consequences of the injection of CO2 into typical subsurface aquifers. Both models will help to ensure the long-term safe storage of CO2.

The technology developed during CO2-REACT provides a safe alternative for capturing and storing other acid gases, such as hydrogen sulfide, which may be a major application for this research.

Further details of the CO2-REACT ITN can be found at: