Over thousand of years, rocks have naturally been absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and binding it with minerals. But this process is slow, much slower than the effects of a forest’s photosynthesis for example.
Scientists have however, albeit in labs, managed to speed up the process by adding a catalyst, sodium nitrate, to ground up rock. In minutes, the rocks reform and absorb carbon dioxide in the process.
Unfortunately the process in its current form cannot be applied on a large scale. But scientists are optimistic.
A new study led by Sam Krevor of Columbia University’s Earth Institute has been mapping rocks with the potential to absorb carbon all across the United States, from California to Oregon and from Alabama to Newfoundland (Canada). His team has found a staggering total of 15,540 sq km of rock formations that have the potential to be ‘supercharged‘ to accelerate their carbon absorption rates.
Although these rocks have also been mapped earlier in Oman, Papua New Guinea and Caledonia, this study’s mapping of ‘Carbon Absorbing Rocks’ is by far the largest of its kind. Sam firm believes in the potential of these rocks to absorb 500 years of the United States’ carbon emissions but there still is one problem…
“The problem is not going to be a lack of rocks, it’s getting them to do the job” – Sam Krevor