HomeTop StoriesHow does "enhanced rock weathering" help remove CO2?

How does “enhanced rock weathering” help remove CO2?

The natural process of rock weathering, while effective at breaking down carbon and storing it in rocks over thousands of years, may not provide an immediate solution to combating climate change. Given the urgency of the situation, waiting millions of years may not be feasible as our planet continues to accumulate greenhouse gases without significant mitigation efforts.

One potential solution is “enhanced rock weathering”, which aims to speed up the natural process. This technique involves grinding a significant amount of rock into a fine powder to maximize their surface area, which is then spread over the ground. By increasing the rate of weathering, the improved process has the potential to capture and store carbon more quickly.

According to a BBC report, UN-affiliated scientists have warned that simply reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not be enough to prevent dangerous levels of global warming. They emphasized the need to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Enhanced rock weathering help to remove CO2

Over millions of years, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere combined with rainwater to form carbonic acid. This natural process occurs when acid hits mountains, forests and grasslands. As a result, carbon dioxide interacts with rocks and soil, undergoes mineralization and safe storage in the form of carbonate.

Enhanced rock weathering takes advantage of this phenomenon by using finely crushed rock particles. This increases the contact area between the rainwater and the rock, improving the weathering process and facilitating more carbon removal.

UNDO, a pioneering company, aims to accelerate the process of rock weathering by applying crushed basalt rock to agricultural land.

The company is focused on reducing the time required for the process, condensing it from millions of years to mere decades. Once the reaction between carbon dioxide and weathered rock occurs, the resulting greenhouse gas is sequestered and safely stored for thousands of years.

How does this process help crops and soil?

Improved weathering, achieved by applying nutrient-rich rocks to the soil, offers a number of benefits. It not only facilitates the storage of carbon dioxide but also improves crop yields by providing essential nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium.

It also increases soil fertility, nutrient availability and reduces dependence on fertilizers. This process also aids in ocean restoration by reducing ocean acidification by releasing bicarbonate ions. In addition, weathering products increase soil water retention and help plants during droughts.

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