An early-stage start-up is working to enhance Earth’s natural abilities to sequester carbon. Lithos Carbon is a company founded in 2022 that uses an enhanced rock weathering approach to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Its technology works as it spreads basalt across farmland that is finely crushed into dust. Basalt is a silica-based rock that contains nutrients like magnesium and calcium and is a byproduct of mining.
It can greatly speed up the natural process of carbon capture in soil. When it reacts with rainwater, it converts the atmospheric CO2 into dissolved bicarbonate while also releasing macro- and micronutrients to the soil, improving soil fertility.
Dissolved bicarbonate is then transferred from farmland by rivers and streams to the ocean, where it is stable for thousands of years as it forms calcium carbonate minerals that are permanently deposited on the ocean floor.
Lithos monitors the whole process for leakage in river networks and tracks the carbon in its cradle-to-grave lifecycle.
Lithos Carbon uses novel soil models and machine learning to maximize CO2 removal. It has an isotope dilution technology designed for cost-effective verification of carbon removal in soil.
The team behind the start-up includes geochemists Dr. Noah Planavsky, Dr. Chris Reinhard, and Mary Yap with years of experience designing methods for quantifying and maximizing carbon removal and deploying software at a global scale.
The team has performed studies in the fields of empirical verification, river network, and plant tissue to advance the measurement of CO2 drawdown and its ecosystem impact.
Using the significant learnings from its long-term field trials, the team is now trying to develop a low-cost, high-removal enhanced rock weathering approach supported by robust measurement, reporting, and verification methodologies. It aims to achieve this by establishing the right supplier and distribution partnerships.
“Existing estimates of global carbon dioxide removal capacity through enhanced rock weathering indicate clear potential to achieve gigatonne-scale capture in the coming decades. We aim to establish a cost-effective and globally-scalable method that drives down the cost curve of enhanced rock weathering over time while concurrently improving food security and cropland health”, says co-founder Mary Yap.
Lithos joined the Carbonfuture Catalyst program in July 2022 – an initiative of carbon marketplace Carbonfuture that supports innovative carbon removal companies on their journey.
It aims to accelerate their path from proof of concept demonstration to formally participating in the carbon removal market and benefiting from carbon credits sales. Carbonfuture Catalyst also gives participants early access to revenue and support from carbon market experts.