Lowering Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide from Power Generation by Forming Usable Carbonates: Mineral Carbonation as a CO₂ Sequestration Option in NSW, Australia

By Judy Bailey and Monica Davis.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Australians are among the world’s largest human per capita contributors to carbon dioxide emissions. In 2008 the most populous state of NSW accounted for 158.2 Mt of these emissions, with 76 Mt of NSW emissions from stationary sources, such as power plants. NSW has not located adequate porous and permeable sedimentary basins to sequester carbon dioxide in underground reservoirs.

Mineral carbonation is an alternative method of reducing emissions of CO₂ by chemical reaction with magnesium or calcium-bearing rocks to form insoluble carbonates, which bind CO₂ in a form that is stable over geological time. Current methods seek to replicate the natural weathering process of silicate rocks such as peridotite and serpentinite to form carbonates such as magnesite, but reduce the time for the carbonation reaction to proceed. New processing approaches focus on environmentally sustainable aqueous reactions which eliminate the use of acids, and biodissolution of reactants or precipitation of products using bacteria, which would reduce the energy penalty. Value-added by-products which could offset costs include magnesite, magnetite, silica, heat, nickel and chromite. Refractory magnesite bricks are currently used for a variety of steel-making and other furnaces, and potentially for insulated housing. The aim is to approach the estimated cost of geosequestration, which is possibly grossly underestimated due to inherent variability of each individual basin.

Mineral carbonation should be evaluated in NSW, and other countries where geosequestration is a less than viable option in the short term. The mineral carbonation process represents a stable solution to storing carbon dioxide, without risk of leakage, without the need for monitoring and with the promise of products which will make the process economically viable.

Keywords: Carbon Dioxide, Mineral Carbonation, Geosequestration, Power Plants, Value-Added By-Products, Energy Penalty, Economically Viable

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.267-276. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1021.332KB).

Dr. Judy Bailey

Lecturer in Earth Science, Discipline of Earth Science, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Science and Information Technology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

I began my career in 1978 as a coal geologist, exploring for coal resources in NSW, Australia. My PhD, completed in 1992 in collaboration with the disciplines of Chemical Engineering and Geology at the University of Newcastle, and Pacific Power in NSW, researched methods of increasing the efficiency of coal-fired power plants in terms of fuel utilisation and particulate emissions. This research included extensive work on coal as a material, and improvements in power generation processes. I taught United Nations Development Program short courses in Australia and a US Department of Energy-sponsored course in Japan on efficient power generation. On taking up a Lectureship at the University of Newcastle in 1993, I was immediately asked to teach courses on climate and Quaternary Geology, concerning processes operating over the most recent two million years of earth history. My research emphasis has now shifted to sustainably and permanently lowering carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants during the imminent inevitable transition to renewable energies, especially in the developing world.

Monica Davis

Honours student, Earth Science, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Monica researched this topic as her Honours thesis in earth Science at University of Newcastle in 2008. She was awarded Honours Class I Division I, and is responsible for the geomagnetic modelling and the resource calculations in the study. Monica has now worked for BMA Coal in Queensland, Australia and now works on resource modelling for Polaris.

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