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Assessing the potential of soil carbonation and enhanced weathering through Life Cycle Assessment: a case study for Sao Paulo State, Brazil

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David ManningORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Enhanced silicate rock weathering for long-term carbon dioxide sequestration has considerable potential, which depends on availability of suitable rocks coupled with proximity to suitable locations for field application. In this paper, we investigate the established mining industry that extracts basaltic rocks for construction from the Paraná flood basalts, Sao Paulo State, Brazil. Through a Life Cycle Assessment, we determine the balance of CO2emissions involved in the use of this material, the relative contribution of soil carbonation and enhanced weathering, and the potential CO2 removal of Sao Paulo agricultural land through weathering of basalt rock.Our results show that enhanced weathering and carbonation respectively emit around 75 and135 kg CO2eqper ton of CO2eqremoved (considering a quarry to field distance of 65km.) We underline transportation as the principal process negatively affecting the practice and uncover a limiting road travel distance from the quarry to the field of 540 ± 65 km for carbonation and 990 ± 116 km for enhanced weathering, above which the emissions offset the potential capture. Regarding Sao Paulo state, our results show that the application of crushed basalt could capture around 1.3 to 2.4 Mt CO2eq per ton of rock applied to each hectare of the state’s 12 million hectares of agricultural land through carbonation and enhanced weathering, respectively. This study estimates lower sequestration from soil carbon than previous research. It also emphasizes the need to consider all process stages through Life Cycle Assessment methodology to provide more reliable estimates of the sequestration potential of greenhouse gases removal technologies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lefebvre D, Goglio P, Williams A, Manning DAC, de Azevedo AC, Bergmann M, Meersmans J, Smith P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Cleaner Production

Year: 2019

Volume: 233

Pages: 468-481

Print publication date: 01/10/2019

Online publication date: 11/06/2019

Acceptance date: 10/06/2019

Date deposited: 13/06/2019

ISSN (print): 0959-6526

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.06.099


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