WALLULA, Wash.- For years, talk of greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions have flooded the media, but local scientists may have come up with a long-term solution to cut down those CO2 emissions.
Industrial plants across the globe are emitting greenhouse gases. CO2 is a gas that fills our atmosphere and blocks radiation from escaping, but what if we could stop those gases by literally transforming them into something else? Scientists from Battelle are showing just how super powered science can be. They studied basalt rocks at the Boise plant in Wallula that are 16 million years old and have fractures left over from ancient CO2. They thought, ‘what if we could put CO2 back in?'
"You know the superhero Iron Man can't even do that, that is really cool," said Grant Pfeifer from the Department of Ecology.
After some lab tests scientists realized that liquid CO2 injected into the basalt rock begins to crystallize and stores itself in solid form. This storage of carbon could be an alternative to smoke stacks pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. If the test works out, they hope it will get global attention.
"That'd be awesome to have people with some stature to be able to stand up and say, ‘look this is a technology that has real merit, we ought to be doing something with it,'" said Gretchen Hund from Battelle.
As part of the test they're pumping about 40 metric tons of carbon a day. Their permit will allow up to 1000 tons to be injected a little more than half a mile underground. That carbon will expand through the fractures of the basalt rock and crystallize there, hopefully proving to be a safe alternative to emitting greenhouse gases.
"I see it as giving us more tools to bring to the fight," said Pete McGrail from Battelle.
The operation is the first of it's kind. The Boise company, Battelle and the other participating groups hope the process can be used on a global level in the future to help fight global warming.