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Passive Sequestration of Atmospheric CO2 through Coupled Plant-Mineral Reactions in Urban soils

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David ManningORCiD, Phil Renforth


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Photosynthetic removal of CO2 from the atmosphere is an important planetary carbon dioxide removal mechanism. Naturally, an amount equivalent to all atmospheric carbon passes through the coupled plant-soil system within 7 years. Plants cycle up to 40% of photosynthesized carbon through their roots, providing a flux of C at depth into the soil system. Root-exuded carboxylic acids have the potential to supply 4-5 micromoles C hr(-1) g(-1) fresh weight to the soil solution, and enhance silicate mineral weathering. Ultimately, the final product of these root-driven processes is CO2, present in solution as bicarbonate. This combines with Ca liberated by corrosion associated with silicate mineral weathering to enter the soil-water system and to produce pedogenic calcium carbonate precipitates. Combining understanding of photosynthesis and plant root physiology with knowledge of mineral weathering provides an opportunity to design artificial soils or to plan land use in ways that maximize removal and sequestration of atmospheric CO2 through artificially enhanced pedogenic carbonate precipitation. This process requires relatively low energy and infrastructure inputs. It offers a sustainable carbon dioxide removal mechanism analogous to the use of constructed wetlands for the passive remediation of contaminated waters, and is likely to achieve wide public acceptance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Manning DAC, Renforth P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Science and Technology

Year: 2013

Volume: 47

Issue: 1

Pages: 135-141

Print publication date: 22/05/2012

ISSN (print): 0013-936X

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: American Chemical Society


DOI: 10.1021/es301250j

Notes: Carbon Sequestration special issue


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Funder referenceFunder name
Newcastle University
Oxford Geoengineering Programme
EP/F02777X/1Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
NE/F008716/1Natural Environment Research Council