What is it about?

Global warming mitigation and energy transition require effective CO2 emission reduction and enhanced supply of critical metals. Carbon mineralization and concurrent critical metal recovery using a metal-complexing ligand offer a significant opportunity to simultaneously achieve both objectives for sustainable development. The utilization of ex-situ direct aqueous mineral carbonation can potentially make the CO2 mineralization process economically feasible owing to the value of nickel and cobalt recovered and comprehensive usage of mineral resources to sequester carbon and realize carbon credits. The success of high carbon mineralization efficiency and highly selective metal extraction in one step makes the accelerated mineral carbonation applicable. Nickel recovery from olivine silicate minerals can increase the global metal production and expand the reserves of explorable nickel resources.

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Why is it important?

This work forms the basis for an innovative and robust process that integrates CO2 mineralization and enhanced metal recovery from olivine. Nearly 90% nickel and cobalt extraction and mineral carbonation efficiency were simultaneously achieved in a highly selective single-step process. In this process, each t olivine can permanently stabilize 0.49 t CO2 gas as mineral carbonates and simultaneously 1.97 kg (4.35 lb) nickel and 0.05 kg (0.11 lb) cobalt were extracted. The extracted aqueous nickel- and cobalt- ligand complex in aqueous solution can be easily separated from the solid carbonates. The selective metal extraction and mineral carbonation can be conducted at various temperatures and kinetic control regimes. This innovation may have implications for the clean energy transition, enhanced CO2 storage and utilization, and enhanced supply of critical metals.


I hope this article can help us and industries gain confidence in achieving global warming mitigation. In the past, we always keep thinking of CO2 gas as waste. In fact, we can consider CO2 as a feed material to enhance the production of critical battery metals for clean energy transition. I strongly believe that CO2 emission reduction is not a burden for our society but actually a significant chance for evolution in technologies and sustainable developments.

Fei Wang
University of British Columbia

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Carbon mineralization with concurrent critical metal recovery from olivine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2203937119.
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