Why Enhanced Rock Weathering is a Crucial Carbon Removal Method

Whilst emissions reduction is a pressing concern, Carbon Dioxide Removal requires urgent investment, research, and development to meet future climate goals.

Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) at a glance

Rock weathering is a natural process that gradually removes CO₂ from the atmosphere on timescales of hundreds of thousands to millions of years. As part of nature’s portfolio of carbon removal mechanisms, rock weathering has regulated the Earth’s temperature throughout geological history and maintained the habitability of the planet. Moreover, the supply of nutrients and ions from rocks has been essential for the evolution and sustenance of life on land and in the ocean.

Through grinding and spreading the right rocks on farmland, ERW accelerates this natural process from millions of years to less than a decade, removing CO₂ from the atmosphere on human-relevant timescales and providing important co-benefits for local and global environments.

A tractor spreading rock powder over a field

“[Silicate rock powders] must be seriously considered as soil amendment for strongly weathered soils in the humid- and subhumid tropics, since they could fill the unresolved and escalating gap for affordable and accessible K sources and micro-nutrient soil amendments, which neither conventional fertilizers nor liming can currently sufficiently address.”

Swoboda et al., 2022, Science of the Total Environment 807

“In terms of energy, land and water requirements, ERW is found to be competitive with other large-scale CDR strategies and holds additional advantages over some of them by requiring less energy (e.g. direct air capture) and less water (e.g. afforestation), while supporting agricultural production rather than competing with it (e.g. bioenergy crops).”

Eufrasio et al., 2022, Nature Communications Earth & Environment, 3; 106

“In Brazil crushed rock remineralizers have been developed, and Brazilian federal law allows these to be used for crop nutrition, with specifications clearly defined by appropriate regulation. This approach provides a model that enables developing countries elsewhere to exploit local geological sources, and reduces dependency on imported chemical fertilizers.”

Manning & Theodoro 2018, The Extractive Industry and Society, 7

“Investment incentives for enhanced weathering are potentially broader and include increased yields, improved soils, reduced agrochemical costs, improved runoff water quality in environmentally sensitive areas and potential benefits to marine life.“

Beerling et al., 2018, Nature Plants, Vol. 4, p137-147

Silicate Rock Particles

Rock weathering regulates temperature through the consumption of carbon dioxide, where atmospheric CO₂ dissolved in rainwater is removed during rock dissolution.

Stable Bicarbonates

In rainwater, CO₂ is present as carbonic acid. By dissolving rocks with this acid, the CO₂ is transformed into a stable dissolved phase called bicarbonate.

Nutrient Rich Soils

Soils are regenerated as a result of the nutrient addition from the fresh rock minerals, supporting restoration of ecosystems and the production of healthy produce.

Ocean Alkalinity

The bicarbonate is transferred through groundwaters and rivers to the ocean where it is stored potentially for tens of thousands of years, also reducing ocean acidification.

How Enhanced Rock Weathering Works

Carbon Removal as Nature Intended

InPlanet accelerates and leverages a natural carbon removal process by distributing optimal rock powder on suitable agricultural land. We do this in the tropics because here weathering is especially efficient, which leads to the highest carbon removal potential globally.
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Science Advisory Board

InPlanet is a science-first organization and aims to be rigorous and transparent in its commitment to the monitoring, reporting, and verification of carbon removal. In December 2023, we launched our Science Advisory Board to ensure oversight of our scientific strategy. Our Science Board members are leading academics from the field of enhanced rock weathering, and they independently provide direction and advice. We are always open to collaboration on scientific topics, so if you have an idea, please get in touch!

Get in touch
Profile photo of James Campbell

Dr. James Campbell

Heriot-Watt University, UK

Profile photo of Mathilde Hagens

Dr. Mathilde Hagens

Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

Profile photo of Noah Planavsky

Prof. Noah Planavsky (volunteer)

Yale University, US

Profile photo of Maria-Elena Vorrath

Dr. Maria-Elena Vorrath

University of Hamburg, Germany

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Prof. David Manning

University of Newcastle, UK

Our Rigorous Measurement Approach

At InPlanet, we are dedicated to scientific integrity and research, measuring a broad range of direct and indirect parameters in different physical components of the system that may be used to quantify carbon dioxide removal (CDR) or understand weathering reactions. This includes tracking weathering elements such as cations and metals, organic and inorganic carbon products, and secondary measures like pH. We examine the rock powders, soils, soil waters, vegetation, and gases to gain comprehensive insights into weathering processes.

Join the team