Spreading Rock Dust on Fields Could Soak Up Billions of Tons of CO2

By: | July 10th, 2020

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Worldwide people are facing the impacts of climate change. Scientists are looking for the ways to reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Researchers from University of Sheffield have come up with an amazing technique known as enhanced rock weathering. This technique involves dispersing rock dust over farmlands. Researchers foresee this amazing technique could annually suck billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air.

Enhanced rock weathering (ERW):

Enhanced rock weathering involves spreading finely crushed basalt on fields to enhance the soil’s ability to suck CO2 from the air. It is the natural tendency of the rocks to absorb CO2 as they break down in the environment. Scientists are using this approach to supercharge soil’s ability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

This incredible approach not only accelerates sequestration process but also has many advantages. These advantages include:

  • Adding limestone dust to soil helps in reducing soil acidification.
  • Adding rock dust improves fertility and crop yields.

For capturing CO2, basalt is the best rock and it could easily be sourced from waste materials produced by various industries.

Researchers also pointed out that the world’s biggest polluters, China, the US and India, have the greatest potential for ERW. All three have vast cropland and their climate is appropriate for this technique.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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