Design and Construction of an Experimental Setup to Enhance Mineral Weathering through the Activity of Soil Organisms

Tullia Calogiuri*, Mathilde Hagens, Jan Willem van Groenigen, Thomas Corbett, Jens Hartmann, Rick Hendriksen, Iris Janssens, Ivan A. Janssens, Guillermo Ledesma Dominguez, Grant Loescher, Steven Mortier, Anna Neubeck, Harun Niron, Reinaldy P. Poetra, Lukas Rieder, Eric Struyf, Michiel Van Tendeloo, Tom De Schepper, Tim Verdonck, Siegfried E. VlaeminckSara Vicca, Alix Vidal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Enhanced weathering (EW) is an emerging carbon dioxide (CO2) removal technology that can contribute to climate change mitigation. This technology relies on accelerating the natural process of mineral weathering in soils by manipulating the abiotic variables that govern this process, in particular mineral grain size and exposure to acids dissolved in water. EW mainly aims at reducing atmospheric CO2 concentrations by enhancing inorganic carbon sequestration. Until now, knowledge of EW has been mainly gained through experiments that focused on the abiotic variables known for stimulating mineral weathering, thereby neglecting the potential influence of biotic components. While bacteria, fungi, and earthworms are known to increase mineral weathering rates, the use of soil organisms in the context of EW remains underexplored. This protocol describes the design and construction of an experimental setup developed to enhance mineral weathering rates through soil organisms while concurrently controlling abiotic conditions. The setup is designed to maximize weathering rates while maintaining soil organisms' activity. It consists of a large number of columns filled with rock powder and organic material, located in a climate chamber and with water applied via a downflow irrigation system. Columns are placed above a fridge containing jerrycans to collect the leachate. Representative results demonstrate that this setup is suitable to ensure the activity of soil organisms and quantify their effect on inorganic carbon sequestration. Challenges remain in minimizing leachate losses, ensuring homogeneous ventilation through the climate chamber, and avoiding flooding of the columns. With this setup, an innovative and promising approach is proposed to enhance mineral weathering rates through the activity of soil biota and disentangle the effect of biotic and abiotic factors as drivers of EW.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere65563
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Volume2023
Issue number201
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2023

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