Heavy industry to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Iceland

Government organizations, heavy industry, and energy companies collaborate in order to reduce the emissions for electricity production, aluminum industry, and meet CO2 quotas in Iceland. In the spring of 2019 ministers of the Icelandic government along with people from the energy industry and with the aluminum companies, signed a letter of intent on carbon purification and binding.

This entails securing financial support to carefully investigate whether the method "CarbFix" can become a viable option, both technically and financially, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from heavy industry in Iceland. Then the companies will each look for ways to become carbon neutral by 2040.

The “CarbFix” project was initiated in 2006 and formalized by four founding partners “Reykjavík Energy”, the University of Iceland, CNRS in Toulouse and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in 2007. Since then, several universities and research institutes have participated in the project under the scope of EU funded sub-projects, including “Amphos 21”, “Climeworks” and the University of Copenhagen.

Pilot injections were carried out in 2012 at the “CarbFix” pilot injection site, located 3 km from “Hellisheidi” power plant, which is the third-largest geothermal power station in the world. It has been found that over 95% of the CO2 injected into the “CarbFix” site in Iceland was mineralized to carbonate minerals in less than two years. This result contrasts with the common view that the immobilization of CO2 as carbonate minerals within geologic reservoirs takes several hundred to thousands of years.

Following the success of the pilot injections, the injection was scaled up to industrial scale at “Hellisheidi” geothermal power plant, with injection of 65% CO2-35%H2S gas mixture at about 800 m depth and about 230°C at the “Husmuli” injection site, located 1,5 km northeast of the power plant.

The injection has been an integral part of the operation of the “Hellisheidi” power plant since June 2014. In 2016, the injection operations were scaled up again, doubling the number of gases injected. The injection is ongoing today and at current capturing capacity, approximately 1/3rd of the CO2 and about 3/4th of the H2S emissions from the plant are being re-injected, or approximately 10,000 tonnes of CO2 and about 6,000 tonnes of H2S annually.

Keywords: carbon dioxide, emissions, aluminum, carbon neutral, Hellisheid, Iceland