Terrestrial enhanced weathering, the spreading of ultramafic silicate rock flour to enhance natural weathering rates, has been suggested as part of a strategy to reduce global atmospheric CO2 levels. We budget potential CO2 sequestration against associated CO2 emissions to assess the net CO2 removal of terrestrial enhanced weathering. We combine global spatial data sets of potential source rocks, transport networks, and application areas with associated CO2 emissions in optimistic and pessimistic scenarios. The results show that the choice of source rocks and material comminution technique dominate the CO2 efficiency of enhanced weathering. CO2 emissions from transport amount to on average 0.5-3% of potentially sequestered CO2. The emissions of material mining and application are negligible. After accounting for all emissions, 0.5-1.0 t CO2 can be sequestered on average per tonne of rock, translating into a unit cost from 1.6 to 9.9 GJ per tonne CO2 sequestered by enhanced weathering. However, to control or reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations substantially with enhanced weathering would require very large amounts of rock. Before enhanced weathering could be applied on large scales, more research is needed to assess weathering rates, potential side effects, social acceptability, and mechanisms of governance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
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- School of Engineering & Physical Sciences - Professor, Associate Professor
- School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, Institute of Mechanical, Process & Energy Engineering - Professor
Person: Academic (Research & Teaching)