Caldeira Lab Research:Energy, Global Carbon Cycle, and Climate

Enhanced carbonate dissolution: A means of sequestering waste CO2 as ocean bicarbonate

Greg H. Rau & Ken Caldeira

An exploration of the possibility of reacting mineral carbonate and water with waste CO2 to form bicarbonate solution before injecting it into the deep ocean. This would be a more environmentally friendly (as well as cost-effective) method of sequestration than directly injecting the waste CO2 into the ocean.

Rau, G.H., and Caldeira, K. Enhanced carbonate dissolution: A means of sequestering waste CO2 as ocean bicarbonate. Energy Conversion and Management 40, 1803–1813, 1999.

Possible reactor designs to implement accelerated carbonate dissolution: Schematic of a reactor designed for large scale and efficient implementation of enhanced carbonate dissolution for waste CO2.


The reaction of a mineral carbonate, such as limestone, with water and CO2 to form bicarbonate in solution, is explored as a CO2 mitigation strategy. Initial cost estimates for such a process range from $18 to $128 per tonne CO2 sequestered, with an energy penalty of about 8% and with relatively low environmental impact. The regional availability and transport of water and mineral carbonate appear to be the primary determinants of the strategy's cost and applicability. The bicarbonate-rich waste effluent would be released into rivers or coastal waters, ultimately adding a small amount to the existing, very large bicarbonate reservoir in the ocean. For many applications, this form of 'marine' carbon sequestration appears to be less costly, less affected by nation and international regulations, more environmentally friendly and more effective over the long term than direct CO2 injection into the ocean.