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Mineral carbonation and the KISS principle
R.D.Schuiling1*, O.Tickell2 and S.A.Wilson3,
1Institute of Geosciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
2Oxford Climate Associates/Kyoto2.
3Dept. Geological Sciences, Indiana University, U.S.A.,
The Earth emits annually between 0.5 and 1 Gt of CO2, among others by volcanoes. Before the industrial revolution this was captured by the weathering of basic silicates, turning CO2 into bicarbonate in solution. These bicarbonate solutions are then carried by rivers to the oceans, where the CO2 is returned to the rock record as solid carbonates (limestones and dolomites). The burning of fossil fuels has dramatically increased the emission of CO2 to more than 30 Gt/yr., and weathering reactions cannot cope with this, so the CO2 levels in the atmosphere are rising. The balance can be restored by mineral carbonation. The recipe is simple and straightforward:
-select an abundant material that weathers easily (olivine or serpentine)
-mine and mill this material
-spread it in a favorable climate for weathering
One should follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid), and leave the weathering to nature. Instead, many researchers try to develop techniques to speed up the carbonation. This costs extra energy and money, by which mineral carbonation is pricing itself out of the market.