Mechanochemical processing of silicate rocks to trap CO2

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Milling minerals rich in magnesium and iron within CO2 gas has been proposed to capture carbon as metal-carbonates. We conduct milling experiments in CO2 and show that polymineralic rocks such as granite and basalt, whether high or low in carbonate-forming metals, are more efficient at trapping CO2 than individual minerals. This is because the trapping process is not, as previously thought, based on the carbonation of carbonate-forming metals. Instead, CO2 is chemically adsorbed into the crystal structure, predominantly at the boundaries between different minerals. Leaching experiments on the milled mineral/rock powders show that CO2 trapped in single minerals is mainly soluble, whereas CO2 trapped in polymineralic rocks is not. Under ambient temperature conditions, polymineralic rocks can capture >13.4 mgCO2/g as thermally stable, insoluble CO2. Polymineralic rocks are crushed worldwide to produce construction aggregate. If crushing processes could be conducted within a stream of effluent CO2 gas (as produced from cement manufacture) our findings suggest that for every 100 Mt of hard rock aggregate sold, 0.4-0.5 MtCO2 could be captured as a by-product.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-788
Number of pages9
JournalNature Sustainability
Issue number7
Early online date13 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • mechanochemical
  • carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • ball milling
  • carbon capture
  • carbon capture materials
  • thermal desorption


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