Carbon dioxide sequestration by mineral carbonation Literature review update 2005–2007

Carbon Sequestration, Climate Change
Sipilä, Johan; Teir, Sebastian; Zevenhoven, Ron

The field of mineral sequestration for the long-term storage of carbon dioxide is a CCS (carbon

dioxide capture and storage) option that provides an alternative for the more widely advocated

method of geological storage in underground cavities, especially at locations where such

underground cavities are not available, where the risk of leakage of the CO2 stored underground is

considered unacceptable, or where large resources of material suitable for carbonation are present.

Although the state of the art of mineral carbonation processing technically suffers from too slow

chemical kinetics and poor energy economy, the driving forces for continued attention for this CCS

route are its sheer capacity (dwarfing other CCS methods), the fact that it gives compact and

leakage-free CO2 fixation that needs no post-storage monitoring and finally the potential of

operating at a zero (or negative) net energy input, provided that the process is properly optimised,

and utilises the benefits of favourable thermodynamics. Despite partial successes and promising

process ideas, so far the keys to success have not been found. While work on this subject did not

start until the 1990s, earlier literature reviews have considered the period until 2000 [1†], the period

until 2003 [2†] and the years 2003-2004 [3]. As already noted in the previous review, the increasing

worldwide interest in mineral carbonation (demonstrated, for example, by the number of

contributions to the latest GHGT conferences) has motivated the prompt production of the next

literature review.

The information collected and presented here shows that mineral carbonation R&D found its way to

an increasing number of countries, and that besides carbonation of magnesium- or calcium-based

minerals especially the carbonation of waste materials and industrial by-products is expanding.

Currently the main route for carbonation uses aqueous solutions, either “direct”, where an additive

is used to achieve the required chemical reaction rate, or “indirect” where extraction of Mg or Ca

and the subsequent carbonation of that are separate process steps that are optimised independently.

Depending on whether purpose of the goal is to bind large amounts of CO2, or produce a carbonate

material, the methods, process parameters, input materials and additives vary widely depending on

what cost level is considered acceptable. One aspect addressed in some more detail in this report is

energy efficiency, showing that the costs of process heat input are significantly over-estimated

when charged the same way as power input, giving a false impression of overall process economics.

For large-scale CO2 sequestration using magnesium silicates the aqueous route developed in the

U.S. is still the most successful one, with a cost level at above 40 €/t CO2. Work on stepwise

carbonation of serpentine with the exothermic carbonation step conducted at high temperatures and

pressures is ongoing in Finland.

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