Carbon Mineralization in Architected Siliceous Nanochannels
A series of chemical transformations can remove carbon from air or gas emissions and lock it in solid form. The process, called carbon mineralization, binds carbon dioxide to calcium or magnesium to form a solid, water-insoluble, inorganic compound that can durably store carbon for more than a thousand years. One of the most promising, scalable, and energy-efficient approaches to carbon mineralization uses earth-abundant silicates with tiny nanoscale pores. But the chemical interactions that support carbon mineralization in these nanoscale pores are not well understood, limiting our ability to harness carbon mineralization for carbon capture, conversion, storage, and removal technologies.
With this CAREER award, Greeshma Gadikota, Civil and Environmental Engineering, is investigating the mechanisms that drive carbonate formation in fluids and gases confined in siliceous nanoscale pores. Researchers will engineer siliceous nanochannels ranging from 2–20 nanometers to investigate pore-scale interfacial mechanisms that influence carbon mineralization. This research program is closely integrated with educational and outreach activities to train the future STEM workforce and to engage members of groups underrepresented in STEM and members of underserved rural communities.
Advancing gigaton-scale solutions to capture, convert, store, and remove carbon dioxide from gas emissions and air is crucial to limit the environmental impacts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through human activity. The results of this research will be used to investigate the validity of classical and non-classical mechanisms of carbonate formation and to propose new mechanisms if needed. Insights from the project will also contribute to collaborations with local farmers to co-create carbon removal solutions through mineral weathering.