Enhanced Weathering

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Enhanced weathering is a promising negative emissions technology that leverages a natural geological process to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It involves accelerating the weathering of silicate rocks, a process that naturally absorbs CO2, by spreading finely ground rock dust over land or in the ocean. This technique has the potential to sequester significant amounts of carbon dioxide while benefiting soil health and mitigating ocean acidification.

Impact on climate action

Enhanced weathering accelerates the natural process of rock breakdown, locking away atmospheric CO2. By leveraging large carbon sinks like oceans and soils, this innovation offers scalable carbon removal. Its implementation could significantly contribute to mitigating climate change, fostering more robust climate action efforts worldwide.


  • Natural Weathering: Silicate rocks, like basalt, naturally react with atmospheric CO2 and rainwater through a process called chemical weathering. This reaction converts CO2 into bicarbonate ions, which eventually flow into the ocean and are stored in the form of carbonate minerals on the seafloor.
  • Enhanced Weathering: By crushing silicate rocks into a fine powder, their surface area is significantly increased, accelerating the weathering process. Spreading this rock dust over land or in the ocean can greatly enhance the natural carbon capture rate.
  • Carbon Sequestration: The bicarbonate ions produced through weathering ultimately end up in the ocean, where they are converted into carbonate minerals and stored permanently on the ocean floor, effectively sequestering carbon for long periods.

TRL : 4-6

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Optimized Rock Dust Production: Researchers are exploring different methods for crushing and grinding rocks efficiently and cost-effectively, aiming to produce rock dust with optimal particle size and reactivity for enhanced weathering.
  • Targeted Application Strategies: Scientists are investigating the most effective ways to apply rock dust, including spreading it on agricultural fields, forests, coastal areas, or directly into the ocean, considering factors like soil type, rainfall patterns, and ocean currents.
  • Combined Approaches: Combining enhanced weathering with other carbon sequestration techniques, such as biochar application or reforestation, could further amplify carbon capture potential.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Silicate Rock Dust Engineering
  • Accelerated Weathering Techniques
  • Oceanic Carbon Capture Methods
  • Basaltic Rock Powder Production
  • Soil Health Improvement Strategies
  • Ocean Acidification Mitigation Solutions
  • Carbon Sequestration in Marine Environments
  • Fine-Tuning Weathering Processes
  • Land-Based Carbon Removal Approaches
  • Integrated Carbon Capture Systems
  • Sustainable Rock Dust Sourcing
  • Erosion Control Measures
  • Carbon Cycle Enhancement Techniques
  • Seafloor Mineralization Technologies
  • Weathering Rate Optimization
  • Coastal Carbon Sink Enhancement
  • Carbon Storage in Biogenic Carbonates
  • Ecological Impacts Assessment
  • Carbon Negative Land Management
  • Weathering Product Application Innovations

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • UNDO:
    • Technology Focus: UNDO specializes in enhanced weathering techniques, which involve harnessing natural processes to capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They may employ methods such as spreading finely ground minerals like olivine or limestone on land surfaces to accelerate carbon sequestration.
    • Uniqueness: UNDO could differentiate itself through its proprietary methods for implementing enhanced weathering, such as optimized mineral selection, application techniques, and monitoring systems to ensure effectiveness and scalability.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions could appeal to a wide range of stakeholders interested in carbon capture and climate mitigation, including governments, corporations, NGOs, and agricultural organizations.
  • Project Vesta:
    • Technology Focus: Project Vesta focuses on using a naturally occurring mineral called olivine to enhance weathering processes on beaches and coastal environments. By spreading olivine on shorelines, they aim to accelerate the absorption of carbon dioxide from seawater, leading to the formation of stable carbonates.
    • Uniqueness: Project Vesta stands out for its focus on coastal environments and the potential synergies between enhanced weathering and coastal restoration efforts. Their approach could offer additional benefits such as shoreline protection and biodiversity enhancement.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions may be of interest to coastal communities, conservation organizations, marine industries, and climate-focused initiatives seeking natural solutions for carbon sequestration and coastal resilience.
  • Eion:
    • Technology Focus: Eion could be involved in developing novel technologies or approaches for enhanced weathering, potentially focusing on innovative materials, application methods, or monitoring systems to optimize carbon capture and storage processes.
    • Uniqueness: Eion may differentiate itself through its cutting-edge research and development efforts aimed at advancing the field of enhanced weathering. Their focus on technological innovation could lead to breakthroughs in efficiency, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions could cater to a diverse range of stakeholders interested in climate change mitigation, carbon offsetting, sustainable land management, and ecosystem restoration.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Columbia University are pioneering techniques for enhanced weathering, which involve accelerating natural processes to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They are developing methods to optimize the dissolution of minerals such as olivine, which can react with CO2 to form stable carbonate minerals.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Columbia’s research involves a comprehensive approach to assess the feasibility and scalability of enhanced weathering as a carbon sequestration solution. They are conducting field experiments to evaluate the environmental impacts and geochemical processes associated with large-scale deployment of enhanced weathering techniques.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Columbia University has implications for global climate mitigation efforts. Enhanced weathering could potentially be deployed in diverse environments, including agricultural lands, coastal regions, and mining sites, to enhance soil fertility, restore degraded ecosystems, and mitigate climate change.
  • University of Oxford’s Department of Earth Sciences:
    • Technology Enhancements: The University of Oxford is at the forefront of research on enhanced weathering, focusing on developing innovative methods to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of carbon sequestration through mineral dissolution. They are investigating novel catalysts and reactive materials to accelerate mineral weathering processes.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Oxford’s research integrates geological, geochemical, and engineering perspectives to address the technical and practical challenges associated with large-scale deployment of enhanced weathering. They are also exploring synergies with other carbon removal technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
    • End-use Applications: The research at the University of Oxford has implications for sustainable land management, carbon offsetting, and climate adaptation strategies. Enhanced weathering could be integrated into agricultural practices, land reclamation projects, and carbon trading schemes to achieve multiple environmental and socioeconomic co-benefits.
  • University of Sheffield’s Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Sheffield are developing cutting-edge techniques for enhanced weathering, leveraging advances in materials science, chemistry, and process engineering. They are exploring novel approaches to enhance the reactivity and longevity of mineral-based carbon sinks.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Sheffield’s research focuses on addressing the scalability and cost-effectiveness of enhanced weathering as a climate mitigation strategy. They are conducting life cycle assessments and economic analyses to evaluate the environmental and economic viability of large-scale deployment of enhanced weathering techniques.
    • End-use Applications: The research at the University of Sheffield has implications for global carbon management and sustainable development. Enhanced weathering could be deployed in various settings, including agricultural landscapes, industrial sites, and coastal ecosystems, to enhance carbon sequestration, soil fertility, and ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Enhanced weathering is still primarily in the research and development phase. While some startups, like UNDO and Eion, are offering commercial services for land-based enhanced weathering, large-scale commercial implementation is still limited as further research and demonstration projects are needed to validate its effectiveness and address potential environmental concerns.