By on November 4, 2008

Does the future of going green mean packing gravel into the tailpipe of your car? Maybe. MIT’s Technology Review reports that Columbia University researchers have discovered that magnesium rich rock formations know as peridotite absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The rock reacts with carbon-dioxide to create calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. The researchers optimistically predict, “that the carbon-sequestration rate in rock formations in Oman could be increased to billions of tons a year–more than the carbon emissions in the United States from coal-burning power plants, which come to 1.5 billion tons per year.” The rock is also found in California and New Guinea. Researchers believe that fracturing and heating the rock would increase its ability to trap large amounts of CO2. Right now, the researchers are only looking at large-scale commercial applications. But who knows, the time may come when a peridotite filter might find its way under your car.

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12 Comments on “Rocks in Your Tailpipe?...”

  • avatar

    That rocks!

  • avatar

    Be more fun if we could put a banana or potato in the tail pipe.

  • avatar
    Point Given

    fracturing the rock can cause seepage into ground water sources, it’s definitely not a 100% safe storage method. Turns into one of those what’s worse questions….is it worse to put it into the atmosphere or to put it underground and possibly have it contaminate underground water sources?

    Read Stupid to the Last Drop….It has some eye opening results from underground carbon storage in Saskatchewan.

  • avatar

    So in other words it works like the activated carbon we use for aquarium filters meaning we’d have to replace it every so often for it to actually work.

    I can see this one hitting the market ASAP just for the steady revenue stream.

  • avatar

    I have rocks in my head. Will that help?

  • avatar

    Not clear to me what impact this would have, because the article has no comparison of how much co2 could be sequestered this way vs how much we produce on an annual basis. But it certainly sounds like it might help.

  • avatar
    Charles T

    So they’re proposing diapers for your car that you have to change every so often to keep the back end “clean”. Well, it’ll certainly help prepare drivers for parenthood.

  • avatar

    can stones in kidneys help anything? take mine, please

  • avatar

    CO2 is plant food. I like plants. Don’t reduce the amount of CO2, and then make me pay for it, too. What a colossal waste.

  • avatar


    Mass balance:
    (2400 grams C / gallon)* (10 gal/tank )* (84 g/mol MgC03 / 12 g/mol C) = 168,000 g.

    So you’re going to remove 168 kg of MgCO3 from your tailpipe after every 10-gallon tank? That’s neglecting the weight of all the other crap that was part of the raw mineral.

    I think this is why they’re going for industrial application only.

  • avatar

    It’s absolutely stupid ideas like this that are going to totally mess up the planet. Some ignorant assed wackos with a solution to a non existent problem.

    I think a MUCH better solution to the “abundance” of CO2 would be if all the enviro fanatics quit breathing… How much CO2 would that sequester? :)

  • avatar

    sean362880 is correct – the CO2 is a combustion product of the carbon in the fuel and the oxygen in the air taken in by the engine; the resulting CO2 would need to be stored in a trailer full of “rocks” and purged quite often. It may find use if one could build a coal-fired power plant on top of a formation of the stuff, but any other ‘economically feasible’ use is unlikely.

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