Crushed Rocks Can Capture Billions of Tons of CO2 per Year

May 31, 2023 | Educational Resources

Title: Enhanced Weathering: Crushed Rocks Spread on Farmland Can Capture Billions of CO2 per Year



The article discusses the concept of “enhanced weathering,” which involves spreading crushed rocks on farmland to capture significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. According to recent research, this technique has the potential to sequester billions of tons of CO2 annually, providing a substantial contribution to global climate change mitigation efforts.

Enhanced weathering involves using rocks that naturally react with CO2 in the air, such as basalt, and grinding them into fine particles. These particles are then spread across agricultural fields, where they undergo chemical reactions with CO2, converting it into solid carbonate minerals over time. This process mimics the natural weathering of rocks but accelerates the rate of carbon capture.

The article highlights a study published in Nature, which estimates that enhanced weathering on just 2% of global croplands could remove around two gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually. This is equivalent to approximately one-third of current global emissions from fossil fuels. Furthermore, the process releases essential minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can enrich the soil and enhance agricultural productivity.

While the technique of enhanced weathering shows great potential, there are challenges to its widespread adoption. The availability of suitable rock types, transportation logistics, and energy requirements for crushing and distributing the rocks pose significant obstacles. Moreover, the long-term storage and monitoring of the captured carbon need to be carefully considered.

Despite the challenges, researchers believe that enhanced weathering could play a crucial role in mitigating climate change. It offers an opportunity to offset CO2 emissions while providing benefits for agriculture and soil fertility. Continued research, development, and large-scale pilot projects are necessary to fully assess the feasibility, environmental impacts, and cost-effectiveness of this approach in the future.

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