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Sanford Underground Research Facility

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Scientists discover microbes that eat CO2 and convert it into rock very quickly

American researchers from the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota have discovered micro-organisms at a depth of more than a kilometer that eat CO2 gas and can convert it into rock. The discovery can make CO2 capture and storage much more efficient.
Capturing and storing CO2 from the atmosphere is seen by the IPCC climate panel as an important means of halting global warming. In the Netherlands, a final investment decision was recently made for the Porthos project. From 2026, CO2 will be captured from a number of companies in the port of Rotterdam and permanently stored in empty gas fields in the North Sea.

Geological faults
But storing CO2 is not entirely without risks. There is a chance that injected gas will escape again into the outside air. “For example, if a geological fracture occurs or if pressure changes occur after pumping in (of CO2 gas, ed.), the stored gas may look for a way to escape,” says Professor Gokce K. Ustunisik, who works at the Geological Research Center of the South Dakota Mines.

Attach to rock
That is why scientists are investigating whether it is possible to bind CO2 gas to rock. CO2 can attach to layers of stone with specific properties. Gas thus becomes a solid and therefore has less tendency to escape. This process is called in situ mineralization. The major disadvantage is that this form of CO2 binding takes a long time, between seven and ten years.

Eating CO2
But thanks to the recent discovery by scientists from South Dakota, this may be possible a lot faster in the future. The research was conducted in an abandoned mine kilometers deep. There, the scientists found various microorganisms that appeared to be able to eat CO2 and process it into rock. The tiny animals could also do this incredibly quickly. In just ten days, the consumed CO2 was converted into rock. Once fossilized, the CO2 can be stored for thousands of years without any risk of escape.

Harsh conditions
“The discovery of life deep in the rocks, 1,200 meters below the surface in SURF, was exciting,” says Tanvi Govil, one of the researchers. “We are fortunate that SURF is home to special microbes that have survived in this extreme underground environment with no light, little food and limited space.”

The scientists have now patented their discovery. In the next phase, the researchers want to test the microbes in other places underground. Given the many abandoned mines in the US, the researchers believe that there are enough suitable test locations where large-scale storage of CO2 is possible.




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  • Meeloun Education

    12 w

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    • George Kariuki

      12 w

      This is truly exciting and holds immense potential for revolutionizing CO2 capture and storage!

      • Esther Wanjiku

        12 w

        wow! The kind of research done in these countries is so mind blowing

        2
        • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

          12 w

          Incredible breakthrough! The discovery of micro-organisms at significant depths that rapidly convert CO2 into rock is a game-changer for carbon capture and storage. This innovation not only enhances efficiency but also addresses concerns related to gas escape. The ability of these microbes to turn CO2 into rock within ten days, as observed in the abandoned mine, offers a promising solution for faster and secure carbon storage. The researchers' plans to test these microbes in various underground locations, leveraging abandoned mines, could pave the way for large-scale, accelerated CO2 storage. 🌍🔬 #ClimateInnovation #CarbonCapture

          2
          • Rashid Kamau

            12 w

            A research worth recognition and support to spearhead fight against climate change.

            4
            • Malcolm Macqueen

              12 w

              Often these 'silutions' on CCS allow countries to delay their climate targets and green investments

              2
              • Tabitha Kimani

                12 w

                I always love what scientists do to bring solutions. Total commitment!

                4
                • Joseph Githinji

                  12 w

                  Congratulations to the Sanford Underground Research Facility for such a great revelation. This is surely going to reduce carbon emissions and hence create a net zero environment.

                  9
                  • Princess

                    12 w

                    This innovative approach holds immense potential for carbon capture and deserves recognition for its positive impact on environmental sustainability.

                    10
                    Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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