Our process extracts metals from abundant silicate rocks. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere-ocean system or point sources is neutralized and stored in the form of magnesium carbonate or bicarbonate. Scarce metals in the rocks are separated and sold to make batteries, steel, and other products. Process reagents are recycled using electrochemical reactors.
Over geologic timescales, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are kept in check by the chemical weathering of silicate rocks. In this natural process, carbon dioxide combines with rainwater to form mild carbonic acid, which helps dissolve metals (M in the diagram above) from rocks. The metals and carbon dioxide dissolved in river water eventually reach the ocean, where carbonate rocks can form over time. However, the current rate of human-caused carbon emissions is too fast for Earth's natural cycle to keep up. Our process speeds up the reaction of carbon with silicate rocks to bring the Earth's climate back into balance. This mimics geologic uplift, the increase in elevation of rocks over time due to forces within Earth. Periods of uplift of large mountain ranges in Earth history have been associated with global cooling due to increased exposure of silicate rocks to weathering.