An Enhanced Rock Weathering research trip to build strong, global partnerships

Published:
December 10, 2022
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Visit to Skalar

The first stop of the research trip was at Skalar, a company that specialized in building instruments for carbon measurements. Their machines reliably measure carbon in water, particularly dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). Besides getting to know their Skalar FormacsHT for DOC/DIC we got to see several other interesting instruments and their production process. Afterward, we tested a set of water samples and discussed the challenges and opportunities related to Enhanced Rock Weathering research in the field.

Skalar FormacsHT Enhanced Rock Weathering
The Skalar FormacsHT to measure dissolved (in)organic carbon for Enhanced Weathering Research
Skalar team InPlanet
Dr. Philipp together with the Skalar Researchers: Dr. Mark Ruppenthal (left) and Frank de Kok (right)

Visit to University of Antwerpen

After getting to know these powerful measurement devices the next stop was the University of Antwerpen in Belgium. Here we met Dr. Sara Vicca and the Enhanced Rock Weathering research team, which Phil already had the honor to visit a year ago. The Enhanced Weathering research team has grown with new Ph.D. and master students, who are exceptionally dedicated to contributing to the solution to measure Enhanced Rock Weathering. After presenting our measurement approach for the tropics we discussed crucial aspects, such as the pore water collection, application procedure, and difficulties of choosing the right measurement analytics. This was followed by a visit to the University of Antwerpens’ outdoor mesocosm experiments and indoor pot experiments. Here they test the effects of various grain sizes and microorganisms on enhanced weathering. Soon we can expect exciting news from this research group. We see a fruitful collaboration coming forward as we will perform analytics that can easily be compared with theirs in the future. Especially with regards to in-situ Enhanced Weathering analysis and measurements of partial pressure of CO2.

mesocosm antwerpen university
The University of Antwerp’s mesocosm experiments as part of their Research on Enhanced Weathering
ERW research team Antwerpen University
Picture with the Enhanced Weathering Research team of the University of Antwerpen, from left to right Arthur Vienne, Philipp Swoboda, Harun Niron, Jet Rijnders,  Sílvia Poblador, Sara Vicca.

Visit to Wageningen University

The last visit was to Wageningen University in the Netherlands, a research institution at the forefront of agricultural sciences globally. We had a meeting with Dr. Mathilde Hagens and their team. Experts from different research fields attended our presentation so the discussions focussed on slightly different topics. All attendees agreed about the importance of the underrepresented soil hydraulic properties and highlighted the necessity of having standard soil measurements that are suitable for Enhanced Weathering calculations. After the discussions ended, we visited their fascinating Weathering Research field and laboratory experiments. We got additional insights into AI-assisted incubation experiments that belong to a bigger joint project called BAM! (short for Bio-Accelerated Mineral Weathering).

University of Wageningen Enhanced Weathering InPlanet
Dr. Philipp with the Enhanced Weathering research team from Wageningen University, from left to right Kangying Xie, Emily te Pas, Tullia Calogiuri, Mathilde Hagens, Remy Richie

It was truly inspiring to talk to all these smart minds diligently working on reliably measuring Enhanced Rock Weathering in soil. Exact quantification remains a challenge, but the scientific community is making major advancements to show how silicate rock powders can be applied as a safe, global solution to remove carbon dioxide from the air, while simultaneously restoring and fertilizing soils. The new connections we built and the old ones we deepened are crucial to advance our Enhanced Weathering field trials in the tropics. Also, this ensures our monitoring, reporting, and verification is up to date and adheres to the latest scientific standards.

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