Greenland’s underground as a possible CO2 reservoir | Polarjournal
The glaciers and permafrost in Greenland are becoming a victim of the increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere. Could help be in the bottom of the island? Image: Dr Michael Wenger

Greenland, as part of the Arctic, suffers greatly from global CO2 emissions, which continue unabated despite climate agreements. It is mainly the permafrost and the ice sheet with its glaciers, both of which are melting away under the feet of the inhabitants due to CO2 and other greenhouse gas induced warming. In order to make its contribution to reducing CO2, the Greenlandic government is discussing with experts whether Greenland could become a CO2 sink instead of a CO2 victim.

There is a saying that if you cannot defeat your enemy, you should join or bind him. This is probably the credo the Greenlandic government wants to follow when, with the help of experts, it now wants to turn its island into a carbon sink by simply allowing the CO2 to solidify into stone deep in the ground. At least, these are plans published by the Greenlandic newspaper Sermitsiaq on Saturday.

According to the idea of the Icelandic company Carbfix, CO2 is to be bound with water directly at the point of origin and then pressed in a proprietary process into a basaltic ground, where the pressure and chemical reaction of the water with the basalt mineralizes the CO2 and thus petrifies it. In Iceland, the process works thanks to the volcanic origin of the ground. Video: Carbfix

The idea was presented by the head of the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Jørgen Hammeken-Holm, the Minister of Finance, Naaja H. Nathanielsen, and the well-known geology professor, Minik Rosing, during their presentations at two conferences in Greenland. They refer to a method used in Iceland by the company Carbfix, in which carbon dioxide is bound in water on site and then pumped into suitable ground in specific plants. This should meet certain geological criteria, such as being made of basalt or similar rock formations, so that the carbonated water in the rock dissolves out calcium, magnesium and iron and mineralizes them with the CO2 to form carbonates, which then hold the CO2 fixed as a rock formation deep in the ground. “Young basalt rock is highly fractured and porous, allowing water to easily seep through the interconnected cracks and empty spaces in the bedrock,” Carbfix writes on its website. “In the CarbFix pilot project, it was determined that at least 95% of the injected CO2 mineralizes within two years, much faster than previously thought.” The company has proven the effectiveness of its method in a number of scientific studies.

Because of this rapid process, experts consider Carbfix’s method to be a suitable means of transforming Greenland from a CO2 victim to a CO2 sink. Initial investigations are already underway. In doing so, Carbfix experts are working with Greenlandic geologists to use drill cores from northwestern Greenland that were obtained during an assessment of the Nuussuaq region for oil production. According to the experts, the region has certain geological similarities to Nesjavellir in Iceland, where Carbfix will commission its first plant. The project could also prove economically rewarding for Greenland. This is because CO2 fixation is considered a very suitable means in the fight against global warming and is also financially supported by many institutions.

The Greenlandic company Nuna Oil also wants to be involved, thanks to its expertise in relation to the ground drilling it had carried out in the course of possible oil production in Greenland. Its chairman of the board of directors, Stine Bosse, tells Sermitsiaq: “It creates entirely new opportunities for Greenland, but it’s also a development that needs to be managed so that the opportunities benefit Greenland and the Greenlanders.” So instead of promoting a CO2 emitter, she wants to be involved in making CO2 disappear into the ground. But it will be some time before harmful CO2 is finally stored in Greenland’s soil, and globally, not all companies are changing from Saul to Paul, as published data on the occasion of the World Climate Summit show.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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