The CarbonLock program

We are Australia’s leading carbon dioxide removal (CDR) program. CarbonLock brings together research spanning engineering, biology and chemistry to search for integrated CDR solutions. Learn about the CarbonLock Future Science Platform.

The opportunity

To avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change and keep global warming to no more than 1.5 °C, global emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

The most important part of reaching net zero is that emissions are deeply reduced. However, if we are to meet net zero emissions targets, large amounts of carbon dioxide will also need to be removed from the atmosphere and permanently stored.

Emissions removals can only be achieved with the development and deployment of new technologies that durably remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it for many centuries.

This means that deliberate and accelerated removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, in parallel to decarbonisation efforts, provides the only legitimate means to reach net zero.

So what’s holding us back? Current carbon dioxide removal technologies are expensive and slow. They also lack resilience in the face of increasing ecological disasters like bushfires and drought.

We know that there is still time to turn things around.

That’s why Australia’s national science agency is turning its focus to smart innovation and leaning into the technologies of tomorrow.

CarbonLock Future Science Platform

At CSIRO’s CarbonLock Future Science Platform, we are working to develop the cornerstone technologies that could help the world limit further warming.

We’re leading a national effort to develop technologies that are fast, scalable, responsible, as well as cost-effective and permanent systems for capturing and storing carbon.

Proposed focus

Our main focus is engineering novel ways to accelerate solutions already found in nature with the help of innovative science and technology. We’re investigating whether it is possible to accelerate natural processes of carbon dioxide removal (e.g. photosynthesis) and lock up carbon on permanent timescales (hundreds to thousands of years). In some cases, this might involve speeding up natural cycles and in others, engineering the specific mineral reactions we need to increase the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered.

Potential impact

To date, we have delivered an initial set of scoping, modelling and investigative projects to inform our future research activities. These projects helped lay foundations for more intensive research in our current research portfolio.

Our researchers are searching our land, seas and skies to find new carbon dioxide removal technologies. We are exploring all possible avenues to design technologies that have potential to permanently sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The future science and capability developed in CarbonLock has the potential to underpin new industries and reshape existing industries for Australia, with CSIRO’s science and capability at the centre.

It also positions Australia to take full advantage of growing carbon international markets and to identify opportunities for the export and deployment of novel technologies.

As these technologies reach maturity over the coming decades, we stand ready to help scale and deploy them to the rest of the world.

CarbonLock is Australia’s largest carbon dioxide removal research program, leads Australia’s representation in major global collaborations, and works closely with other countries to further these technologies.

CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms

Future Science Platforms (FSPs) are an investment in boundary-pushing science that will underpin innovation and has the potential to reinvent and create new industries for Australia. These multi-disciplinary, multi-year initiatives bring together diverse networks of partners – including early career researchers – to build the foundations of tomorrow’s breakthroughs.

Learn more about CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms