CarbFix, a collaborative project between Reykjavik Energy, the University of Iceland, Columbia University and France’s Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), is striving to develop a safe and economical method for storing carbon dioxide in Icelandic basalt. The project kicked off in 2007 and receives half its energy from Reykjavik Energy, with the other half provided by Columbia, the U.S. Department of Energy, the E.U. and others.

Hellisheidi geothermal power plant. Image credit: Orkuveita ReykjavíkurHellisheidi geothermal power plant. Image credit: Orkuveita ReykjavíkurCarbFix uses a form of carbon capture and storage (CCS), in which carbon dioxide is captured and stored in a location that prevents it from entering the atmosphere. CarbFix scientists inject carbonated water into basalt and hope it reacts with calcium and magnesium in the rock, a technique known as enhanced weathering. The carbonation reacts with silicates in the basalt, locking in CO2 without producing dangerous byproducts.

According to Orkuveita Reykjavíkur, an Iceland energy utility providing information about the project, CarbFix has demonstrated that over 95% of the CO2 injected at the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant was mineralized within two years. Mineralization of CO2 was previously thought to take thousands of years.

Iceland’s unique geography and geology enables the country to generate between 85 and 100 perect of its energy from renewable sources. In 2016, geothermal sources provided 65 percent of its primary energy, with hydropower providing 20 percent.