Irish company Silicate Carbon, which uses concrete to sequester carbon on farms, has been named a winner of the THRIVE Shell Climate Smart Agriculture Challenge and has received $100,000 in grant funding as a prize.

Also as a result of the win, the company, which was founded by Maurice Bryson in Sligo two years ago, is at the South by South West (SXSW) tech conference in Texas in the US this week, where it has been demonstrating its process to those in the AgTech industry.

Silicate was one of just two companies to be awarded the winning prize in the Shell GameChanger category, alongside US-based Gazelle, out of almost 400 competitors from 63 countries.

Silicate Carbon founder Maurice Bryson speaking at the South By South West tech conference in Austin, Texas this week. Image: Silicate Carbon

Judges of the competition included representatives from THRIVE, John Deere, Shell and multinational chemical company BASF.

“To be selected as a winner from such a strong pool of companies is a huge vote of confidence in our technology and the solution it offers, particularly at this early stage in our growth journey.

“The world needs carbon removal technologies to meet global climate goals, and this injection of non-dilutive funding gives us a fantastic opportunity to further scale our technology and to maximise the impact we can have across new potential markets,” Bryson told Agriland.

He outlined that the grant funding will give Silicate the opportunity to scale its technology and introduce it to new potential markets, and will enable them to establish a test site in the US.

“We’ll also have the opportunity to tap into the industry expertise that the ‘Shell GameChanger’ and the ‘THRIVE Accelerator’ programme managers can offer.

“This will be invaluable as we’ll continue to scale,” he added.

Silicate’s technology takes surplus concrete from the building industry and crushes it to dust, before applying it to farmland, using the same machinery and spreaders that one would use for liming.

The material is ultimately weathered and as this occurs, it permanently removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, helping farmers to lower their carbon footprint and rebalance their soil’s pH at the same time.

The crushed concrete material that is applied to farmland to sequester carbon. Image: Silicate Carbon

The SXSW conference runs until Sunday (March 19) and Bryson said that not only is the atmosphere there “infectious”, but “carbon removal has rightly so, had a big presence” at it.

Silicate is focussing on networking and developing partnerships at the event, which Bryson said “will be essential to scale” further.

“It was both inspiring and reaffirming to meet other people dedicated to pushing carbon dioxide removals in the right direction, such as the guys from Running Tide.

“It was also great to meet members of the OpenAir Collective and Shell teams, who are really excited to help us do our work in as scientifically robust a way as possible.

“We also spoke to a lot of interested parties over the week, and have planted firm foundations for our expansion into the US later this year,” he concluded.