Approaches for CO2 Capture and Sequestration Inspired by Biological Systems

Topics: Carbon capture and storage Environment
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In this study, several process alternatives for the permanent sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) as solid carbonates are evaluated. Although the formation of mineral carbonates is thermodynamically favorable, it does not occur significantly because of kinetic limitations and the formation of products that hinder the evolution of the process. In the complete paper, the authors propose biomimicking approaches to precipitate solid carbonates while limiting the amount of energy required or using the byproducts to generate valuable materials.


Permanent sequestration of CO2 as solid carbonates is a feasible solution to the increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Mineral carbonation—the process of capturing CO2 in the atmosphere in the form of solid carbonates through the reaction of CO2 with silicates—is a spontaneous, thermodynamically favorable process. Unfortunately, the kinetics of natural mineral carbonation is very slow and the process is only significant over geological time periods (millions of years).

Accelerated formation of solid carbonates is, nonetheless, widely observed in biological systems, particularly in corals, bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, and foraminifera. These organisms have developed mechanisms to induce and accelerate the precipitation of carbonates, required for their skeletons, in natural saline waters.

Biomimicking is the imitation of biological processes in other contexts for achieving a result not originally present in the mimicked biological systems. While corals need to precipitate carbonate to build their exoskeletons, they do not significantly modify the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. The ­authors propose use of the mechanisms for carbonate precipitation relied upon by corals and other organisms to develop a large-scale process for accelerating the sequestration of CO2 in the form of stable mineral rock.

The complete paper also explores land-based mineral options, including ammonia-assisted precipitation with ammonia regeneration.
This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 180718, “Approaches for CO2 Capture and Sequestration Inspired by Biological Systems,” by Z. Ouled Ameur and S. Gupta, Cenovus Energy, and Hector De La Hoz Siegler, University of Calgary, prepared for the 2016 Canada Heavy Oil Technical Conference, Calgary, 7–9 June. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Approaches for CO2 Capture and Sequestration Inspired by Biological Systems

01 July 2017

Volume: 69 | Issue: 7