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Carbon dioxide capture for storage in the bedrock

Published: 20 December 2020

Luleå University of Technology has been granted ten million by the Swedish Energy Agency to, in collaboration with the packaging company BillerudKorsnäs, develop a technique that captures carbon dioxide from the industry for future storage in the Swedish bedrock.

– The novelty is that we use industry’s internal biproducts to capture the carbon dioxide and that we for the first time investigate on a national scale the potential for geological storage of carbon dioxide in Sweden, says the project leader Glenn Bark, senior lecturer in ore geology at Luleå University of Technology.

The Carbon dioxide is prevented from reaching the atmosphere

The idea is to capture so called biogenic carbon dioxide that is generated from the combustion of biomass at the packaging company BillerudKorsnäs’ production unit in Karlsborg, so that the gas does not reach the atmosphere. With an enzyme-based technique, that is developed at Luleå University of Technology, and the industry’s internal biproducts the researchers in biochemical process engineering will more effectively capture the biogenic carbon dioxide. Thereafter, the gas is converted to bicarbonates, which is a water-soluble form of carbon dioxide and thus safer to pump down into the bedrock.

– We work continuously with reducing our climate footprint. Our production in Karlsborg is 99% fossil free and sustainability is important in our operation. The challenges that the world is facing require collaboration and we look forward to being part of finding solutions to further improve our climate, says Eva Ekholm Stenberg, technical manager at BillerudKorsnäs in Karlsborg. 

Stores the gas in the bedrock

When the carbon dioxide from the packaging company or equivalent industry has been captured and converted to bicarbonates/carbonates it is necessary to store these in a safe way so that carbon dioxide does not leak to the atmosphere. One way is to inject the material into the bedrock and that possibility is what the researchers now will investigate on a national level. In Iceland, this method has been tested during the past ten years and the results from injecting the carbon dioxide into the volcanic bedrock looks very promising. There, they have shown that almost all carbon dioxide that has been injected has converted to the safer mineral, carbonate within two years. Thereafter, the carbon dioxide is not liberated until the bedrock has eroded down to the same level that the carbon dioxide was injected to, and this will take millions of years. In Norway, where storage takes place in sedimentary rocks at sea, which is the storage method that is mainly discussed today, it is estimated to take thousands of years for carbon dioxide to convert into the safer form, carbonate mineral.

Bedrock of basaltic character is of interest

The geological sites that the researchers from Luleå University of Technology will investigate within the project have a bedrock that is relatively reactive, a bedrock that readily reacts with carbon dioxide, to form carbonate minerals. A bedrock of for instance basaltic character (a form of volcanic rock) is suitable, as in Iceland. In Sweden, there are large amounts of basaltic rocks but the main difference between Iceland and Sweden is that the bedrock in Sweden is much older. In this project, the researchers will study whether that age difference has an impact on the efficiency of geological carbon dioxide storage. The researchers will use a number of advanced microanalytical techniques to see if the bedrock is suitable for storage with respect to chemistry, mineralogy, texture and structure.

Within the governmental initiative Industriklivet

This project on bio-energy with carbon capture and storage is a collaboration between the research subjects ore geology and biochemical process engineering at Luleå University of Technology and the company BillerudKorsnäs, within the governmental climate initiative, Industriklivet.

– This is a unique opportunity to merge expert competences in different scientific fields to, together with the industry partner BillerudKorsnäs, find solutions to reduce emissions of biogenic carbon dioxide. I believe that this type of collaboration is necessary to achieve cutting edge research results, says Ulrika Rova, professor in biochemical process engineering at Luleå University of Technology.