Lithos, an agricultural carbon removal company, today announced it has secured $6.29 million in capital to scale deployment of its enhanced rock weathering process for transforming farmland into carbon capture centers while increasing crop yields. The seed round investment was led by Union Square Ventures and Greylock Partners with participation from Bain Capital Ventures, and climate and agriculture funds Carbon Removal Partners, Fall Line Capital, the Carbon Drawdown Initiative, and Cavallo Ventures. Lithos represents both Greylock Partners’ and Bain Capital Ventures' first-ever climate investment. The company plans to use the capital for expanding its team, to fulfill its current waitlist, expand to additional farms and geographies, and acquire additional raw materials.
Based on decades of academic research, Lithos’ engineered biogeochemical process uses volcanic basalt to capture and permanently lock away atmospheric carbon. Compared with other carbon capture solutions, Lithos’ enhanced rock weathering is:
Cost Efficient and Scalable: at a cost 5x less expensive than direct air capture
Faster: significantly accelerating the nature-based process of rock weathering, achieving in two to three years what takes 15-50 year timescales in other rock weathering deployments, and 100-1000x faster than in nature
More Effective: locking away CO2 permanently, with storage lifetimes exceeding 100,000 years
Created for row-crop farmers, Lithos’ software tunes deployment conditions on a field-by-field and crop-by-crop basis to guard against negative impacts and maximize crop yield. Setting up the system is seamless for growers: Lithos’ platform generates a custom application that uniquely optimizes regional focus and rates given variables such as soil chemistry, crop nutrition, climatology, particle distribution, and other conditions. Once the product is spread, Lithos chemically measures carbon removal volume and sells credits to corporations with a share of the proceeds going directly back to the farmer. The software has been developed and proven against long-term field trials and on real farms. According to McKinsey research, the existing market value for carbon credits is $1 billion and it’s expected to scale to $30 - $50 billion by 2030.
“We don’t just capture carbon. Lithos’ approach is directly valuable to farmers, increasing crop yields and replacing the expensive status quo – agricultural lime – with basalt dust, derived from rock that is safe from heavy metals. Our farmer-first mentality prioritizes both crop safety and yield,” said Mary Yap, Lithos co-founder and CEO. “The important climate benefits – removing thousands of tons of CO2 and upcycling byproducts of raw rock aggregate used in construction – are a resounding, resulting bonus.”
In addition to its carbon capture capabilities, basalt has a variety of secondary benefits that universally improve soil health and provide key nutrients to crops. Amidst supply chain challenges and escalating fertilizer costs, maintaining soil conditions can be costly and time-intensive. Basalt’s potassium, phosphorus, and other micronutrient content acts as a certified, organic fertilizing agent. The product also improves soil health and regeneration, for example in the Southeast where rainwater patterns accelerate topsoil erosion and in the Midwest where industrial farming has stripped important micronutrients, basalt replaces vital nutrients that have been lost.
Since launch, Lithos is demonstrating accelerated momentum, achieving key milestones this year:
Lithos is already live across 1,000+ acres with thousands of acreage in the pipeline.
With its breakthroughs in accelerated carbon removal, the company is on track to permanently capture >2,000 tons of carbon dioxide this year and has deployed over 11,000 tons of rock to date.
Lithos joined agriculture leader Yara International’s Agoro Carbon Alliance to deploy enhanced rock weathering (ERW) with Lithos across U.S. farmland. The first acres go live this Fall.
The company is one of five inaugural suppliers across the world for Frontier, a $1B advance market commitment to accelerate the development of carbon removal technologies led by Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify, Meta, and McKinsey. Lithos is Frontier’s largest supplier of credits, at 640 tons.
Lithos has built a team with deep expertise in soil chemistry, freight logistics, agronomy, geophysical modeling, and machine learning.
“We are excited to work with Lithos and to support their approach to low-cost, high-capacity, enhanced weathering," said Nan Ransohoff, Head of Frontier. "The team is working hard to build the right supplier and distribution partnerships, as well as working towards robust measurement, reporting and verification grounded in learnings from long-term field trials.”
Albert Wenger, Managing Partner of Union Square Ventures, adds: “Agriculture contributes a quarter of all global greenhouse emissions, representing a critical - and massive - opportunity for process innovation. Lithos’ process is easy-to-adopt for farmers and doesn’t require new infrastructure or additional land use. This cost-effective, safe carbon removal method is immediately scalable and will have a tremendous impact on food security as it delivers tangible results for combating the climate crisis.”
Lithos was co-founded in March 2022 by Mary Yap, Dr. Noah Planavsky and Dr. Chris Reinhard. The team brings together operational and academic expertise across geology, planetary science, urban research, geochemistry and atmospheric sciences. Yap is a published author of climate research and a second-time startup founder. Her family are generational farmers in Taiwan. Reinhard and Planavsky hail from the Midwest originally and both are tenured professors: Reinhard is an Associate Professor, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech while Planavsky is an Associate Professor, Earth & Planetary Sciences at Yale. Together the pair co-invented Lithos’ predictive management and pH buffering software and the isotope dilution technology that enables precise verification of carbon removal in soil.
“Lithos uniquely demonstrates how science and software can be leveraged to measurably change and improve the climate as we know it today,” said Asheem Chandna, General Partner at Greylock. Mike Duboe, General Partner at Greylock added, “Mary, Noah, and Chris have the research, technology capability and experience to scale Lithos globally. With Lithos there is enormous potential to stabilize our food system that is increasingly challenged by climate, demand and overuse — and it's working!”