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8 March 2023 News Release

CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has announced the launch of its $20 million research program, CarbonLock, to develop new and innovative ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere and permanently lock it away.

CarbonLock is one of a number of programs in CSIRO called Future Science Platforms (FSPs*) aimed at discovering future breakthroughs in new and emerging areas of science.

It will focus on how Australia can create negative emissions technologies (NETs) to remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They are an essential part of the toolkit for addressing climate change and reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Andrew Lenton, Director of CSIRO’s CarbonLock program, said that alongside a concerted focus on reducing emissions, NETs will play a central role in supporting Australia's transition to net zero.

“NETs are critical to Australia’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions because they offer a promising pathway to limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” Dr Lenton said.

“CarbonLock is focused on developing the next generation of permanent carbon storage to complement research already undertaken in nature-based carbon storage solutions and geological Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).”

CarbonLock is also exploring Direct Air Capture (DAC), an early stage enabling technology that captures carbon dioxide from the air and stores it for later use or disposal.

"Our research will investigate new materials that can speed up and scale up DAC, including training artificial intelligence to develop novel composite materials," Dr Lenton said.

“We are also examining the immense potential of in-situ mineral carbonation which involves turning carbon dioxide into stone by reacting atmospheric carbon with rock to form new rock – an area where Australia has a huge advantage.”

CSIRO Chief Scientist Professor Bronwyn Fox said CarbonLock integrates all science on next-generation permanent carbon locking, covering carbon capture, carbon storage and the integration of these systems and will complement other CSIRO initiatives such as the Toward Net Zero Mission.

“CarbonLock is an excellent example of CSIRO driving scientific breakthroughs and collaborating with partners to create innovative solutions that face into the threat of climate change, bringing the best of our science to bare to transform industries, boost the economy, and ultimately improve the quality of life for all Australians,” Professor Fox said.

Note to editors 

Other FSPs include Immune Resilience, to build on the accelerated understanding of human and animal immune systems gained from COVID-19 and develop technologies that prevent, protect and respond to emerging health threats; Revolutionary Energy Storage Systems to unlock the secret to efficient and safe energy storage and Environomics, using genomics, bioinformatics and nano-technology to reinvest how we measure and monitor ecosystem health, changes and threats. Learn more about Future Science platforms here.


CarbonLock researchers are exploring novel gas-liquid contacting concepts for Direct Air Capture (DAC).
CarbonLock researchers are identifying novel electrochemical pathways for intensified mineral carbonation.
Researchers have conducted a feasibility study on reservoir engineering of in-situ carbonation.

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