Ambient weathering of magnesium oxide for CO2 removal from air

Noah McQueen, Peter Kelemen, Greg Dipple, Phil Renforth, Jennifer Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)
301 Downloads (Pure)


To avoid dangerous climate change, new technologies must remove billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere every year by mid-century. Here we detail a land-based enhanced weathering cycle utilizing magnesite (MgCO3) feedstock to repeatedly capture CO2 from the atmosphere. In this process, MgCO3 is calcined, producing caustic magnesia (MgO) and high-purity CO2. This MgO is spread over land to carbonate for a year by reacting with atmospheric CO2. The carbonate minerals are then recollected and re-calcined. The reproduced MgO is spread over land to carbonate again. We show this process could cost approximately $46-159 tCO2-1 net removed from the atmosphere, considering grid and solar electricity without post-processing costs. This technology may achieve lower costs than projections for more extensively engineered Direct Air Capture methods. It has the scalable potential to remove at least 2-3 GtCO2 year-1, and may make a meaningful contribution to mitigating climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3299
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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