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Article

Experimental Deployment of Microbial Mineral Carbonation at an Asbestos Mine: Potential Applications to Carbon Storage and Tailings Stabilization

1
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
2
School of Earth and Environment, The University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
3
School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University, Clayton, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2017, 7(10), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/min7100191
Received: 30 August 2017 / Revised: 19 September 2017 / Accepted: 6 October 2017 / Published: 12 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Capture and Storage via Mineral Carbonation)
A microbial mineral carbonation trial was conducted at the Woodsreef Asbestos Mine (NSW, Australia) to test cyanobacteria-accelerated Mg-carbonate mineral precipitation in mine tailings. The experiment aimed to produce a carbonate crust on the tailings pile surface using atmospheric carbon dioxide and magnesium from serpentine minerals (asbestiform chrysotile; Mg3Si2O5(OH)4) and brucite [Mg(OH)2]. The crust would serve two purposes: Sequestering carbon and stabilizing the hazardous tailings. Two plots (0.5 m3) on the tailings pile were treated with sulfuric acid prior to one plot being inoculated with a cyanobacteria-dominated consortium enriched from the mine pit lakes. After 11 weeks, mineral abundances in control and treated tailings were quantified by Rietveld refinement of powder X-ray diffraction data. Both treated plots possessed pyroaurite [Mg6Fe2(CO3)(OH)16·4H2O] at 2 cm depth, made visible by its orange-red color. The inoculated plot exhibited an increase in the hydromagnesite [Mg5(CO3)4(OH)2·4H2O] content from 2–4 cm depth. The degree of mineral carbonation was limited compared to previous experiments, revealing the difficulty of transitioning from laboratory conditions to mine-site mineral carbonation. Water and carbon availability were limiting factors for mineral carbonation. Overcoming these limitations and enhancing microbial activity could make microbial carbonation a viable strategy for carbon sequestration in mine tailings. View Full-Text
Keywords: mineral carbonation; mine tailings; chrysotile asbestos; CO2 storage; cement precipitation; carbonate minerals; microbial carbonation; cyanobacteria mineral carbonation; mine tailings; chrysotile asbestos; CO2 storage; cement precipitation; carbonate minerals; microbial carbonation; cyanobacteria
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MDPI and ACS Style

McCutcheon, J.; Turvey, C.C.; Wilson, S.A.; Hamilton, J.L.; Southam, G. Experimental Deployment of Microbial Mineral Carbonation at an Asbestos Mine: Potential Applications to Carbon Storage and Tailings Stabilization. Minerals 2017, 7, 191. https://doi.org/10.3390/min7100191

AMA Style

McCutcheon J, Turvey CC, Wilson SA, Hamilton JL, Southam G. Experimental Deployment of Microbial Mineral Carbonation at an Asbestos Mine: Potential Applications to Carbon Storage and Tailings Stabilization. Minerals. 2017; 7(10):191. https://doi.org/10.3390/min7100191

Chicago/Turabian Style

McCutcheon, Jenine, Connor C. Turvey, Siobhan A. Wilson, Jessica L. Hamilton, and Gordon Southam. 2017. "Experimental Deployment of Microbial Mineral Carbonation at an Asbestos Mine: Potential Applications to Carbon Storage and Tailings Stabilization" Minerals 7, no. 10: 191. https://doi.org/10.3390/min7100191

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