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Veolia UK and FabricNano partner up for ‘holy grail of rock weathering’

Veolia has partnered with UK biotechnology start-up FabricNano to create an enhanced rock weathering ‘innovation’ to remove carbon dioxide using basalt rock fines.

The solution will see enzymes applied rocks to trial faster, permanent carbon dioxide removal directly from the atmosphere.  

Veolia will be spreading 30,000 tonnes of basalt rock across farmland throughout the UK as it begins its ERW decarbonisation operations. This landmark trial with FabricNano will see protein powder, containing the Carbonic Anhydrase enzyme, combined with silicate rock being spread on a stretch of farmland near Bicester, UK and run by Oxford Agricultural Trials (OATs).  

The trial uses locally sourced, larger rock particles that are a plentiful resource of nearby mining operations. Applying enzymes to speed up the natural rock weathering processes, this trial will incur less than 100 miles of rock transport to the farmland and consume no energy to grind up rocks. The aim is to prove the methodology for an efficient, scalable method to capture huge volumes of atmospheric carbon dioxide. 

“Wide scale adoption of viable, permanent and effective decarbonisation solutions is essential if we are to achieve Net Zero targets but we need to deploy these faster,” Head of Corporate Development for Veolia UK Marine Avisse said. 

“This innovation, which combines world-leading biotechnology with established carbon removal practices, represents a huge step forward in ecological solutions.  

“Not only will this trial see enzymes accelerate the rate of enhanced weathering, it will also provide us with the data we need to replicate this across more applications so industries can tangibly meet their fast-approaching decarbonisation goals.” 

FabricNano’s patented technology immobilises the Carbonic Anhydrase enzyme directly onto large basalt particles, accelerating carbon sequestration timelines from decades to just a couple of years.  

“Enhanced rock weathering with enzymes is a globally viable option for reaching Net Zero by 2050. Learning from nature, we repurpose the enzyme Carbonic Anhydrase, which naturally acts to lock carbon within the ground and which is found in plentiful supply in agricultural soils around the world,” FabricNano chief executive officer and founder Grant Aarons said. 

“FabricNano applies an extra layer of this enzyme to the top-dressing of cropland where it helps to drive even more storage of carbon by weathering basalt rock fines. 

“The holy grail of rock weathering is utilising large particle rock (>0.5mm) that’s applied to the top-dressing of cropland. We believe that biology, namely the immobilized enzyme Carbonic Anhydrase, has a role to play in enabling this breakthrough process which would allow instant global scalability of rock weathering for carbon sequestration.” 

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