Biologically enhanced degassing and precipitation of magnesium carbonates derived from bicarbonate solutions

Timothy K. Oliver, Bogdan Z. Dlugogorski, Eric M. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This contribution reports the results of batch and semibatch experiments involving bubbling of nitrogen in aqueous solutions of magnesium bicarbonate, with and without the addition of either carbonic anhydrase (CA) or Scenedesmus alga to the solution. Precipitation of nesquehonite occurred during both an accelerated degassing of CO2 induced by sparging small nitrogen bubbles (representative diameter of 20 μm), and during slow degassing engendered by introducing large nitrogen bubbles (representative diameter of 5 mm). The response of the system during low rates of degassing closely approached quasi-thermodynamic predictions, which permitted an estimation of the level of supersaturation of nesquehonite, prior to the onset of precipitation. Small bubbles and CA significantly increased rates of degassing and indirectly the production of nesquehonite, as the rate of degassing can limit the precipitation process. The response of the system during rapid rates of degassing, prior to precipitation, was not entirely consistent with quasi-thermodynamic predictions. During precipitation, higher rates of degassing produced similar alkalisation and precipitation trends to that observed for lower rates of degassing. Our results agree with the formation of travertine deposits in nature, where the degassing of solutions enriched with inorganic carbon, and enhanced alkalisation by microorganisms, have been shown to influence carbonate formation. The results demonstrate a catalytic effect of CA on the rate limiting carbonate reactions, increasing CO2 exchange between nitrogen and water, and indirectly accelerating the precipitation of carbonates for a system controlled by rate of degassing. The results of this study have applications to large-scale storage of CO2 by mineralisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-120
Number of pages8
JournalMinerals Engineering
Issue numberJune
Early online date3 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


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