After promising pilot trials, Zeotech and Griffith University are partnering up to develop products for carbon markets and agricultural nutrient management. 

The trials have identified the potential for Zeotech’s (ASX:ZEO) synthetic zeolites – commonly known as molecular sieves – to be developed into products that could provide competitive advantages to existing soil amendments such as fertilisers and soil conditioners, with a focus on the ‘carbon markets’ program.

The new research partnership comes as COP26 continues and Australia has committed to net zero by 2050 – with soil carbon a key part of the strategy and increasing investor interest in soil carbon/carbon capture technologies.

Griffith will undertake two streams of agricultural product development over 22 months including:

  • Zeotech products for carbon markets: enhanced soil carbon storage and climate change mitigation in agricultural landscapes, targeting a substantial share of the carbon mitigation market – an estimated 15-20% of total human greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Zeotech products to improve agricultural nutrient management: agricultural pollutant interception, removal, and recycling.

“Zeotech is a leader in its innovative approach to carbon mitigation, which strongly aligns with our own objectives,” Griffith University vice president industry and external engagement Dr Peter Binks said.

“The strategic research partnership allows Zeotech to draw on Griffith’s considerable research strengths in soil biogeochemistry and climate change mitigation.”


Helping the agricultural sector meet emissions targets

The aim of the new research partnership is to develop products that help agronomic systems cope with widespread existing and emerging challenges, including fertiliser resource scarcity and increasingly difficult growing conditions wrought by changing climates.

“Zeotech values the opportunity to be working with Griffith University’s Soil and Land Use team, which provides one of Australia’s most highly-specialised and well-resourced groups in the area of agricultural carbon and nutrient management,” Zeotech managing director Peter Zardo said.

“The opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to developing solutions, to potentially aid the agricultural sector help meet Australia’s emission reduction targets, is important to Zeotech and we will continue to explore opportunities within the CCUS sector (Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage), with our highly capable project partners.

“Zeotech remains committed to applying its proprietary low-cost zeolite synthesis technology to deliver solutions aimed at addressing sustainability challenges.”


Developing products for carbon markets

Dr Chris Pratt from Griffith University’s School of Environment and Science/Australian Rivers Institute said he was excited by the opportunity to work with Zeotech to develop products for the challenges that climate change presents to farmers.

“Of particular interest is the potential to extend carbon market solutions to rural communities to aid the transition required in meeting Australia’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050,” he said.

“The promising results gathered from our initial nine-month agronomic studies, and the unique characteristics of synthetic zeolites, presents a compelling opportunity for the application of Zeotech products for carbon sequestration.”

Key activities and anticipated outcomes include:

  • Carbon incubation trial – establishment of Zeotech product quantities required for baseline carbon sequestration;
  • Glasshouse carbon validation – quantitative establishment of Zeotech product effectiveness to sequester carbon in agriculturally active soils;
  • Soil carbon capture enhancement study – proof of concept demonstration of Zeotech product effectiveness in both soil organic and inorganic carbon sequestration; and
  • Greenhouse gas capture trial – proof of concept demonstration of Zeotech product effectiveness in mitigating CO2 and CH4 emissions from common agricultural emission source points.


Evaluating barriers to uptake

Griffith will also evaluate the state of development and prospects for materials-based carbon mitigation technologies with an emphasis on current barriers to uptake, including:

  • Methane Markets – evaluating technologies for methane mitigation from sectors including solid waste management, wastewater treatment, cropping and mineral extraction;
  • Nitrogen GHG Markets – appraising opportunities for alternatives to urea fertiliser use as well as mitigation of ammonia emissions; and
  • Broadened Carbon Capture Markets – focusing on opportunities for soil organic and inorganic carbon capture beyond the agricultural contexts explored in this program.


Improving agricultural nutrient management

The agricultural nutrient management program will target emerging agronomic challenges, including fertiliser resource scarcity and increasing residual agricultural pollutants.

Key activities and anticipated outcomes include:

  • Nutrient sorption/desorption optimisation – development of an operational field, highlighting maximum nutrient retention by Zeotech products treating waste streams; Optimising nutrient loading onto Zeotech products – delivery of a practical Zeotech product formulation that is suited to application in agricultural soils; Agronomic nutrient delivery validation trial – quantitative determination of Zeotech product agronomic performance, benchmarked against conventional soil inputs; and Wider pesticide removal trial – quantitative establishment of Zeotech product effectiveness in treating key pesticide groups in agronomic settings.

“Griffith looks forward to undertaking expanded pilot trials to evaluate solutions for advanced fertiliser delivery and the management of agricultural pollutants – representing a tangible opportunity to support sustainable food production,” Pratt said.



This article was developed in collaboration with Zeotech Limited, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.