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Carbon-Soaking Rocks

April 20, 2009

Certain rocks could absorb carbon dioxide emissions – if scientists can speed up the process.


An environmental role for rocks. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Could rocks help stave off global warming? That’s a question posed by some scientists, including Columbia University Ph. D. student Sam Krevor. Krevor explains that certain rocks do soak up climate-changing CO2 gas from the atmosphere, albeit very slowly. He and his colleagues identified six thousand square miles of exposed rocks like these, in the continental U.S. alone.

SAM KREVOR (Columbia University):
Now that translates into at least 500 years’ worth of CO2 storage.

But absorbing that much CO2 will take thousands of years, unless scientists find a way to speed up the process. Ideas include collecting CO2 and injecting it directly into the rock formations – or, into sealed chambers full of ground-up rocks, where pressure and temperature can be optimized to move things along. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.