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News & Updates

Enhanced Rock Weathering Advisory Services from Viresco Solutions

June 7, 2024

At Viresco Solutions, we often get asked to assess the carbon reduction potential of new technologies or practices. Recently, we looked at Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) led by our chief scientist Brian McConkey.

ERW, a process where rocks are ground into small particles to increase natural rock weathering rates, has the potential to achieve significant carbon dioxide (CO2) removal from the atmosphere. When the resulting rock dust is applied to croplands, it not only offsets GHG emissions but also provides agronomic co-benefits, such as increased cropland productivity.

🌍 Carbon Sequestration: ERW can potentially enhance CO2 removal from the atmosphere by accelerating the natural weathering process of basic silicate minerals (those containing bases such as calcium and magnesium), sequestering CO2 as solid carbonates. Not all silicates provide this benefit; for example, granite and silica sand can increase soil acidity without sequestering carbon.

🌱 Application to Croplands: Applying rock dust to croplands can offset GHG emissions that are economically challenging to avoid while potentially boosting crop yields.
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⚠ Heavy Metal Concerns: Wide-spread ERW adoption necessitates careful management of heavy metal accumulation, which could harm plants, animals, and humans.

🏞 Rock Source Availability: The costs and GHG impacts of extracting, grinding, and transporting suitable rocks are significant considerations, alongside the need for infrastructure investments.

🌾 Agronomic Co-Benefits: ERW can improve soil quality by reducing acidity, increasing cation exchange capacity, and releasing valuable nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

The potential for ERW to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and subsequent application to croplands is a promising approach to reduce GHG emissions. The main considerations regarding ERW (weathering rates, heavy metal accumulation, available rock sources, and agronomic benefits) will affect the costs and benefits of employing this technology. If you’d like to dive deeper into our findings, get in touch for our full technical report. In the fight against climate change, we can leave no stone unturned.

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