The UK Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) Demonstrator is a 5 year research project, funded by BBSRC. We’re one of 5 GGR Demonstrators that are joined to the CO2RE Hub Programme.
Our Demonstrator is a consortium of universities, led by Principal Investigator Professor David Beerling FRS FLSW, at the University of Sheffield, with Co-Investigators at the Universities of Sheffield, Aberdeen, Leeds, Oxford, Heriot-Watt, Cardiff and Southampton, National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Rothamsted Research, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) and project partners from the mineral and agricultural sectors.
What is the challenge?
To meet its net-zero target, the UK needs technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Our demonstrator with field trials and modelling, integrated with public engagement, aims to understand if ERW arable croplands and grasslands could form a big part of the solution.
How does our Demonstrator help solve this problem?
Our innovative Demonstrator aims to advance UK ‘climate-smart agriculture’ through ERW practices deployed on grasslands and arable land using nationally abundant crushed silicate rock (from quarry waste). This technically straightforward adaptation has . overlooked potential to help with the UK’s net-zero-by-2050 commitment by transforming agricultural land management to capture CO2, whilst delivering improvements in crop and forage production, soil quality, and reductions in the powerful greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from arable soils.
Our objectives are to:
- Demonstrate quantitatively ERW-GGR effectiveness on agricultural lands with full GHG budgeting, crop and soil health co-benefits, and environmental risks, including establishing robust, repeatable measurements for verifying CO2 removal, and its long-term storage.
See more on this in our work packages on Field sites for GGR by UK agriculture via ERW, and Measuring weathering rates, CO2 removal and storage.
- Assess the social, cultural and ethical acceptability of local deployment of ERW to communities in our field demonstrator regions, as part of a comprehensive Responsible Research and Innovation process for the Demonstrator.
See more on this in our work package on Public Engagement, Social/Ethical Acceptability and Responsible Innovation.
- Undertake complete Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) across all sites, including life cycle carbon budgets, whole-life impacts on water quality, and the wider implications for sustainability via environmental costs not otherwise accounted for, limitations, risks and trade-offs using industry-standard ecosystem service impact models.
- Examine how ERW can be sustainably scaled up within the UK, with realistic deployment scenarios, and establish the suitability of additional artificial mineral sources for ERW, such as calcium silicate waste from construction and demolition, that offer opportunities for scalability without mining .
See more on this - and the previous - objective in our work package Sustainable Supply Chain and Scalability Assessments.
- Develop a modelling framework for determining the realistic contribution of ERW to the UK’s net zero GGR target, quantifying costs, environmental impacts on- and off-site and farm-scale economics for arable and grassland systems.
See more on this in our work package Modelling Assessment for UK GGR via ERW.
The UK ERW Demonstrator builds on the research of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation (LC3M), also led by Principal Investigator Professor David Beerling FRS FLSW, to confirm the technical feasibility of GGR with ERW and establishing proof-of-principle for maize, soybean, sugarcane and oil palm crops grown on 350 million ha worldwide.