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

David Lefebvre (Corresponding Author), Pietro Goglio, Adrian Williams, David A. C. Manning, Carlos de Azevedo, Magda Bergmann, Jeroen Meersmans, Pete Smith

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Enhanced silicate rock weathering for long-term carbon dioxide sequestration has considerable potential, but 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 Basin, Sao Paulo State, Brazil. Through a Life Cycle Assessment, we determine the balance of carbon dioxide emissions involved in the use of this material, the relative contribution of soil carbonation and enhanced weathering, and the potential carbon dioxide removal of Sao Paulo agricultural land through enhanced weathering of basalt rock.
Our results show that enhanced weathering and carbonation respectively emit around 75 and 135kg carbon dioxide equivalent per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent removed (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 ± 65km for carbonation and 990 ± 116km for enhanced weathering,
above which the emissions offset the potential capture. Regarding Sao Paulo
State, the application of crushed basalt at 1 t/ha to all of the State’s 12 million hectares of agricultural land could capture around 1.3 to 2.4 Mt carbon dioxide equivalent through carbonation and enhanced weathering, respectively.
This study suggests a lower sequestration estimate than previous st
udies and emphasizes the need to consider all process stages through a Life Cycle Assessment methodology, to provide more reliable estimates of the sequestration potential of greenhouse gas removal technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-481
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date11 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

We acknowledge funding through the UP-Green-LCA (NE/P019668/1) and SOILS-R-GGREAT (NE/P019498/1) projects of the greenhouse gas removal (GGR) programme. The GGR programme is financed by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) and the UK department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The authors wish to acknowledge the Royal Society for providing precious insights at the Sackler Forum in 2017. No new data were collected in the course of this research. This study was an analysis of existing data that are publicly available from the cited literature.


  • Life cycle assessment
  • LCA
  • enhanced weathering
  • carbonation
  • NET
  • Sao Paulo
  • Sao paulo
  • Enhanced weathering
  • Carbonation


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