Heirloom Carbon Technologies is looking to fight climate change with its innovative approach to enhanced weathering. The company was recently announced to have garnered a large amount of funding to aid in their goals and help lower atmospheric emissions.
Imagine a world where renewable energy is heavily utilized, forests are abundant, the air is clean, and the worry of climate change has been remedied. The journey to that vision is a long one, but many believe it is possible.
Numerous obstacles currently stand in the way, such as fossil fuels, a lack of recycling policies, and the very prominent culture of overconsumption. Even with the seemingly endless bad news regarding climate change, there will always be those willing to fight for what they believe is right, and in this case, that is Heirloom Carbon Technologies.
Heirloom Carbon Technologies is a company that has begun to take on the large feat of climate change remediation through an unlikely route, enhanced weathering. Intending to reach 1 billion tons of carbon removal by 2035, Heirloom has set high goals for itself and is currently doing everything possible to achieve them.
What is Enhanced Weathering?
Enhanced weathering is a process that uses an abundance of naturally occurring minerals to capture carbon over long periods. This particular process involves mining or extracting the minerals from the ground, heating them to extremely high temperatures, and spreading them across large areas of land where the minerals will begin to sequester the atmospheric emissions. Once those greenhouse gasses have been captured, the minerals can then be injected underground, where the emission will no longer reach the atmosphere and therefore aid in climate change.
The concept of enhanced weathering is a relatively newer approach to carbon removal, which means that scientists are still trying to examine the full range of possibilities and potential challenges. Currently, some drawbacks could be cause for reevaluation if not mitigated properly.
As with many alternative energy or carbon removal options, cost plays a huge factor in mainstream implementation. Since enhanced weathering is considered a newer topic, the approach comes at a high cost due to the mining, processing, and ground injection. This method also contains a lot of nuances and even has the potential to have negative environmental outcomes should these nuances not be considered and remedied. For example, when the minerals are laid out over a piece of land for long periods to capture emissions, this can have negative effects on the surrounding soil due to the lack of aeration and high levels of carbon. With the potential of soil pH levels being altered, agricultural practices could see severe damage, creating a ripple effect of negative social and economic outcomes.
A New Approach
Heirloom Carbon Technologies is hard at work trying to remedy the current state of the planet. Their plan to do this is via enhanced weathering with a twist. Heirloom will take limestone and heat it to 400-900°C, wait roughly two weeks, and then inject the leftover minerals underground, where the carbon will effectively be removed from the atmosphere.
What makes this company unique is all in their approach. For starters, Heirloom is looking to eventually switch their kilns to run off of electricity, reducing the number of emissions released and making the heating process more efficient. The company also claims that the carbon removal portion can be done in only two weeks, far shorter than the one year that it usually takes. This is due to mineral enhancements that are believed to cut down the capturing time and potentially lower soil pH.
Heirloom has also alluded to the fact that due to their enhanced mineral process, they may have the ability to reuse the minerals up to 10 times before having to fully bury them in the ground. This can lower the process's overall footprint immensely and lead to a higher reward for the company.
Heirloom has even claimed that its process will become so streamlined that it will be able to provide the service on a commercial level for only $50 per ton of carbon removed. This is due to the copious number of initiatives that are expected to be implemented as the company grows.
Heirloom has currently leveraged their plan well. They are believed to be financially backed with millions in investments from companies such as Lowercarbon Capital, Prelude Ventures, and Breakthrough Energy Ventures. These potential investments could provide Heirloom the support that they need to successfully proceed with their plan.
If all goes well, Heirloom could be a leader for enhanced weathering and create a lasting impact on the world of greenhouse gasses. The outcome that results from this would be a decrease in severe weather patterns, an increase in wildlife, and an overall healthier future and outlook for both the planet and humankind.