Sep 07 2023

New report makes geochemical CDR measurements understandable and accessible

Tyler Kukla +James Campbell +Phil Renforth +Freya Chay 
Tyler Kukla
Freya Chay

Yesterday, researchers published the first edition of “Measurements in Geochemical Carbon Dioxide Removal” (Campbell et al. 2023), to which CarbonPlan contributed a forward. This work was led by scientists at Heriot-Watt University, and funded in part by the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC). The report consolidates technical best practices for geochemical measurements that are relevant to carbon dioxide removal (CDR) approaches like enhanced weathering and alkaline waste mineralization. It is freely accessible to the public, and should serve as a resource for all members of the geochemical CDR community to learn about relevant analytical techniques and how they can contribute to more effective and informed decision-making.

There are two features of this report that we are especially excited to highlight.

First, this report provides a much-needed summary of the “what,” the “why,” and the “how” of scientific measurements that are relevant to geochemical CDR. It is rare to find this type of information in a clear, consolidated, and publicly accessible form. Information about laboratory measurement techniques is often buried in dense scientific papers, many of which are restricted to paying customers and institutions. Even the relevant, freely available papers can be hard for non-experts to find because they are spread across the many scientific disciplines that geochemical CDR touches. Moreover, scientific papers are usually narrow in scope and assume the reader has some basic knowledge about how the lab instruments work. This report provides a useful entry point to anyone interested in understanding geochemical measurements and how they might be used for CDR.

Second, this report represents a broad and collaborative effort that is poised to evolve alongside our understanding of geochemical CDR. Carbon removal accounting is improving through smarter field sampling, better laboratory precision, and new types of measurements. This report can capture those changes in future editions. The authors of the first edition want feedback from the CDR community and invite collaborations with CDR researchers and companies in preparing for the next edition. We think this potential for cross-disciplinary engagement elevates the significance of this report beyond its content alone.

As interest, research, and investment in geochemical CDR accelerates, it will be important to ensure that the “big picture” — as embodied in monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) standards or deployment plans — rests upon a rigorous technical foundation. By making technical knowledge more widely accessible, “Measurements in Geochemical Carbon Dioxide Removal” supports progress toward understanding and effectively implementing geochemical CDR.

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