German-Brazilian green tech startup InPlanet has raised €1.2 million from climate investors in a pre-seed funding round. Founded in August 2022 and only recently out of stealth mode, InPlanet is pioneering the use of Enhanced Rock Weathering technology, with the goal of achieving large-scale CO2 removal from the atmosphere.
Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) is a promising new method of CDR, in which silicate rocks are pulverized and spread onto farmland soil. The rock particles react with water and CO2 in the soil to form dissolved bicarbonates, which eventually wash away through water systems and river streams into the ocean. Here, they are deposited as carbonates on the ocean floor to be sequestered in the form of sediments for millions of years.
In addition to removing carbon from the atmosphere, the silicate rock is also regenerative for soil and crops, reducing the need for pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, therefore creating a more sustainable farming practice. This process of carbon sequestering has been present in nature throughout geological history, and the goal of ERW is to accelerate and enhance this natural process.
Felix Harteneck, co-founder of InPlanet, decided to devote his energy to ERW after founding two software companies and finding a lack of effective ways to meaningfully offset their carbon emissions. Identifying the enormous potential of ERW, he partnered with Niklas Kluger, and together they founded InPlanet with the goal of researching and scaling this CDR technology. Specifically, they are focusing their projects in the tropical farmlands of countries such as Brazil, given their favorable climate and soil conditions for this CDR method. Kluger describes the company’s main motivation as a “love for nature and our planet’s precious resources,” and a desire “to create awareness towards our ecosystems. I want to support farmers in the transition from an agriculture against nature, to an agriculture in collaboration with nature.”
A major challenge in developing this nascent technology is finding reliable ways to test and track its effectiveness. It requires rigorous measuring of the weathering process as well as the amount of bicarbonates produced and sequestered. In order to develop effective tracking methods, InPlanet partnered with digital CDR-tracking platform Carbonfuture as part of its Catalyst program. This initiative supports startups looking to tackle carbon removal in innovative ways, and provides practical assistance including access to revenue and advice from carbon market experts. Carbonfuture’s industry-leading platform provides meticulous and transparent methods of MRV (monitoring, reporting, and verification) for carbon removal projects. With support from the Catalyst program, InPlanet has been able to test and scale effective MRV methods for its Enhanced Rock Weathering projects.
According to Harteneck, InPlanet’s goal for 2023 is “to spread 50,000 tons of rock powder to remove 10,000 tons of CO2. This will allow us to generate unique and scientifically valuable data to understand the weathering process in the tropics even better.” Alongside support from Carbonfuture and the Catalyst program, and after receiving initial funding from the Frontier and ClimAccelerator programs, this most recent funding round will get it closer to achieving its concrete goal. Its international investors share a vision of backing impact-based, carbon-negative ventures like InPlanet, and include Swiss VC firm Übermorgen, Norwegian VC Katapult, Zurich-based Carbon Removal Partners, micro-fund Trellis Road, and the Carbon Drawdown Initiative.
Enhanced Rock Weathering is one of several exciting CDR technologies being backed by the industry’s largest players to help achieve long-term, large-scale carbon reduction, which the IPCC has identified as a vital step in limiting global warming. Other notable technologies include biochar, whose potential has also been recognized by large companies like Microsoft and South Pole in their efforts to meaningfully reduce their carbon footprint.
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