In a field in northern British Columbia, a white mineral covering the ground–magnesite, also called magnesium carbonate–has slowly been sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere since the last ice age. That’s very helpful: We need to sequester more carbon. But the small crystals of the mineral, made by taking CO2 from the air, can take hundreds of thousands of years to grow, and we need fixes that work faster than that. In a Canadian lab, researchers recently demonstrated that they could speed up the process to 72 days. It’s something that could potentially happen at a large scale to help fight climate change, since a metric ton of magnesite can capture half a metric ton of CO2 (the world emitted 32.5 gigatons of carbon in 2017). Other scientists have also experimented with other ways to speed up this type of “CO2 mineralization.” But while other processes often involve high heat and a lot of energy, the new process can happen at room temperature, so it should be cheaper. Magnesite sediments in a playa in British Columbia. [Photo: Ian Power] “Other researchers have looked at forming this mineral using high-temperature, high-pressure reactors,” says Ian Power, an environmental geoscientist and professor at […]

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