Accelerating CCS Technologies


Fundamental Studies of Mineral Carbonation with Application to CO2 Utilisation

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Mineralization of carbon dioxide represents a principal raw material feedstock for carbonate-based materials, revenues of which are expected to reach $1 trillion/yr. by 2030. Such direct transformation of CO2 gas to solidified added-value carbonates represents an industrially effective route to utilisation, generating stable, inert, non-hazardous, ready-to-use profitable materials.

Magnesite (MgCO3) is an ideal carbonate used in cement and agriculture. Promisingly, vast amounts of raw magnesium (Mg) silicate minerals and Mg-rich industrial wastes exist worldwide that may be carbonated, reducing reliance on mined MgCO3 imported from Russia and China.

The principal challenge for speeding up CO2 utilisation via mineralization as a cost-effective CCUS technology, is the slow rate of mineral precipitation from solution; magnesite in particular. Driven by this challenge, as-faced by Cambridge Carbon Capture Ltd (our industrial partner) and related industries working on CO2 mineralization, FUNMIN is an industry-driven project focusing on discovering & optimizing conditions for speeding up MgCO3 formation.

The aim of FUNMIN is to optimise the process of CO2 mineralisation into MgCO3, actioned from the most evolved simulations & empirical determinations worldwide of the molecular events surrounding MgCO3 formation from inert solution. FUNMIN is an UK-led industrial-academic collaboration between Cambridge Carbon Capture Ltd, which is developing technologies to mineralize CO2 gas into solid MgCO3, and leading academics with a record of accomplishment in the investigation of the fundamental aspects of crystal growth & nucleation using simulation & experimental techniques: atomistic methods and neutron scattering (Queen Mary University), geochemical modelling (Utrecht University), spectroscopy (University of Grenoble), imaging (University of Granada), and structural analysis (University of Oviedo).


FUNMIN comprises four main work packages, designed to achieve the scientific, technical, and industrial objectives of the project. By combining first principle simulations and advanced experimental techniques, WP1-3 will characterise the molecular processes controlling Mg-dehydration, MgCO3 nucleation, and growth. WP4 applies these fundamental aspects towards optimising industrially relevant & applicable process conditions. This knowledge will evolve the current state-of-the-art in mineral carbonation, and lead to the identification of factors catalysing MgCO3 formation. The development and optimisation of CO2 mineralization technologies under mild, non-hazardous, and non-toxic conditions will facilitate the emergence of Carbon Capture & Utilisation technologies.

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