There are also certain types of underground microbes that have been shown feeding off minerals produced in this process, and they emit methane, another harmful greenhouse gas, according to a release from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory accompanying the study. Researchers are currently evaluating the impact the microbes might have on the CarbFix calcite.
Gislason said the process can be scaled up to meet the needs of larger plants. The Hellisheidi plant produces only about 5 percent of the CO2 of the average coal-fired plant.
The process also costs a lot less than other carbon sequestration plans, said Reykjavik Energy's Edda Aradottir, one of the co-author's of the study, in the same release. The CarbFix solution can store carbon for about $30 a metric ton, compared with between $60 to $130 a metric ton for other methods.
The best opportunities for this would be along coastlines, where there is both abundant seawater, and basalt, Gislason said. The paper says that a site could be set up off the coast of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, for example.
Despite concerns that injecting water into the ground (as is done with wastewater from hydraulic fracturing or "fracking") can lead to earthquakes, Gislason says the CO2-charged water is not buoyant, and thus does not affect rock underground in the same way.
The team has been injecting about 10,000 tonnes of emissions per year since 2014, and plan to double the size of the operation later this year.