Abstract

The transition to a low-carbon future involves every component of our productive life — from the energy we use, to the buildings we construct, to the materials we use in our daily lives. Realistically, the shift onto a low-carbon path cannot happen instantly but requires adopting short- and long-term solutions while assessing whether the solutions work in the physical world in which we live. In the short term, incremental technological improvements, such as transitioning to energy sources like natural gas, have the potential to yield immediate benefit to air quality and pollution. In the mid and long term, however, more far-reaching decarbonization technologies must be pursued to achieve game-changing outcomes. In the geosciences realm, leading technologies span from cleaner energy solutions to exploring alternative earth-inspired materials and processes. These include CO2 storage in geologic disposal sites along with its reuse for material manufacturing, the development of enhanced geothermal systems expanding the use of geothermal energy, and adapting subsurface processes to engineer greener processes and materials through geomimicry. In this landscape, experimentation and rock physics are at the crux of understanding rock-fluid processes and are the premise and foundation of decarbonizing our future. All of these applications require experimentation for wider public acceptance to avoid hasty solutions that are counterproductive. The cross-disciplinary nature of each endeavor is pivotal in assessing how processes induced by fluids, their chemistry, and thermal capacity affect the physical and mechanical properties of treated environments. This paper provides an account of the role that rock physics will play in leveraging knowledge across the nanosciences to underpin our path to a decarbonized future through chemical and thermal stimulation practices, solid-CO2 reactions, and engineering processes that manipulate geology to produce materials with functional properties.

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