10:52pm, 27th June, 2016


5 min

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d obviously be aware of the retreating polar ice caps, melting glaciers, abnormal weather patterns and the depleting ozone layer, which makes the news at least once every week. Even in India, the effects can be felt and observed very easily, the irregular monsoon and the extreme climate temperatures are just two of the most evident symptoms of this major issue. Underground water levels have been falling at alarming rates too, depleting our sources for fresh water, the life giving element of our world and now, an essential catalyst for greenhouse mitigation as elaborated later. The topic of utmost priority at every World Summit nowadays, always seem to be the preservation of our blue planet and climate control, and for good reasons too. The future seems bleak unless we take a stand against conventional and outdated technologies with heavy CO2 emissions.

Enter Iceland, a country where 85% of their energy demands are met by renewable sources of energy. The project CarbFix, commissioned by Reykjavik Energy to devise a method to efficiently rock-ify whatever carbon emissions they do have, literally giving new meaning to the phrase ‘bury your problems’. The method is based on a known natural process by which atmospheric CO2 turns into harmless rock and takes hundreds of years before they have a viable result.

In 2012, to recreate the process started pumping 250 tonnes of CO into the ground, directly onto the Basalt(volcanic) rocks. The result: 95% absorption of the pollutants after just 2 years. That is with an exception of 14 tonnes of CO, the rest of it has been turned into a harmless rock.


So what did these researchers do that was different from our mother nature?
The answer is water! So to inject CO2 emissions (+ some other harmful gases) into ground, the researchers used water and passing them through the Basalt rocks. The water became an unexpected catalyst of the process. And yet again, water demonstrates its indispensability to our continued existence. These reports gives a breath of fresh air to environmentalists, albeit a quite polluted one.

While these researches do sound uplifting, one shouldn’t be too in a hurry to rejoice. The project was conducted on a geothermal power plant, where CO2 emissions are low, and whose CO2 emissions are just 40,000 tons annually (compared to India’s 2.5 million tons for perspective). It doesn’t mean that we can continue using fossil fuels and other polluting sources just because a mitigation method is in its embryonic stages.

The switch to renewable and clean sources of energy couldn’t come sooner, unless of course, you’d like to be walking on lava rocks everywhere. But for now, I’ll enjoy my glass of ice-cold water and appreciate the small miracles it provides us ever so often.


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