How to Save a Glacier

One Icelandic glacier is receding annually by the length of an Olympic swimming pool. This is what scientists are doing about it

Perhaps the most promising example of how Icelanders are working to cut their carbon footprint lies about 70 miles northwest of Sólheimajökull. Scientists at the Hellisheidi Power Station, the world’s third-largest geothermal power plant, have developed a process to capture carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and inject it into rock.

The method — now five years old — has cut the plant’s CO2 emissions by a third and researchers there are hoping that it will be adopted elsewhere.

Studded with volcanoes, Iceland gets about a quarter of its electricity from geothermal power: Hot rock heats rainwater underground, which, when brought to the surface, powers turbines to make electricity. But the steam produced by the turbines contains some CO2.

The process, known as CarbFix, involves extracting CO2 from the steam and showering it with water to create carbonated water. It is then pumped underground into porous basalt rock, mineralizing in about two years — significantly faster than other carbon-capture and storage methods.

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