Project Vesta’s ongoing experiment will be spreading a green mineral on beaches where its interaction with the waves may help pull carbon from the air.
The non-profit, on a beach in the Caribbean, will soon start their testing of a radical method that may be of aid in the fight against climate change.
They will spread ground-up olivine-a cheap green mineral, over the sand that will pull CO2 from the air when the waves dissolve the mineral.
The director of the non-profit, Tom Green, said that their goal is to help reduce climate change by turning tons of carbon dioxide into rock.
Speeding Up a Natural Process that Will Be of Aid in the Fight against Climate Change
The aim of the project is to speed up this natural process which is quite slow.
When the rain falls on volcanic rocks, they dissolve a bit, and this leads to a chemical reaction which removes CO2 from the atmosphere and into the water and this is a molecule known as bicarbonate, explains Green.
They will grind up olivine and spread it on the beaches for the waves from the ocean to dissolve it further and thus, trigger the same chemical reaction.
In the water, the organisms will use the bicarbonate to form shells and will eventually end up as limestone on the oceans’ floor.
There were studies done in the past which theorized that this process is viable; however, until now, no one has tried to do it on actual beaches.
Green explains that there are 40 years of science, a lot of theory, and numerous lab experiments behind this project.
Now, it’s time for real life experiments to prove that this can work.
This non-profit originated from the Climitigation think tank which worked to find solutions for climate change with large-scale application, but scarce investment so far.
This tech reached the top of the list because of its huge potential to tackle climate change and little investments injected into it.
What about the Challenges of this Project?
This important project has some possible challenges from an ecological nature. It comes from the spread of a rock on beaches where it won’t naturally exist.
Some critics explain the possibility of the olivine releasing heavy metals like nickel; however, Green claims that nickel released into waters isn’t bioavailable and thus, won’t harm the species.
The pilot will still keep a close check on the metal concentrations in the sand, water, and tissues of the local organisms.
Although it remains to be proven, if the method works, it does hold some benefits over other methods for carbon removal. For example, direct air capture facilities are costly and restoring forests is helpful, but not long-term form as trees are cut down or burned.
On the other hand, olivine can be mined and brought to the beaches for $10 per a ton of carbon collected. And, the ocean does the rest of the work, making it the cheapest method available.