Project Vesta

Introduction

Project Vesta is a research-based organization. Our mission is to advance the science of Coastal Carbon Capture and galvanize global deployment.

What is Coastal Carbon Capture?

Coastal Carbon Capture, known in academic research as Coastal Enhanced Weathering, can be categorized as a negative emission technology (NET) that removes and stores CO2 on long timescales (tens to hundreds of thousands of years) (Minx et al. 2018). The process aims to accelerate the natural chemical weathering of the mineral olivine by spreading large amounts of ground olivine-containing rock onto coastlines where it can dissolve in seawater, thereby increasing the rate of CO2 absorption by the ocean (Bach et al. 2019).

When olivine dissolves in water, it drives the below reaction to the right, thus increasing CO2 uptake, increasing pH, and generating alkalinity. As a result, this process has the potential co-benefit of counteracting ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is the process by which increasing atmospheric CO2 dissolves in seawater, which reduces pH (increasing acidity) (upper reaction in diagram below). This reduces the ability of calcifying organisms like corals to grow and produce exoskeletons, or shells. As you can see below, dissolving olivine in water sequesters hydrogen ions into dissolved silicate (H4SiO4), a molecule that can be used by diatoms, an important photosynthesizing algae that fixes carbon dioxide and forms the base of food web.

The Carbonate chemistry Reaction

This reaction is the foundation of the Long-Term Inorganic Carbon Cycle, which has been occurring for billions of years, stabilizing Earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and in turn enabling life to thrive. In fact, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) through natural rock weathering consumes ~1 gigaton of CO2 every year (Ciais et al. 2013). Indeed, there are naturally-occurring olivine beaches with diverse ecosystems like Papakōlea Beach in Hawaiʻi, where we are researching the local ecology, ecotoxicology, olivine weathering rates, and secondary mineral formation.

Unfortunately, natural chemical weathering happens too slowly to balance human CO2 emissions and is already accounted for in Earth’s present-day carbon budget. Project Vesta is pioneering techniques to accelerate this natural process to remove at least a gigatonne of atmospheric CO2 per year on a global scale. We are an international team of scientists and entrepreneurs working to safely and effectively scale Coastal Carbon Capture (CCC) worldwide.

References

Minx, J. C., Lamb, W. F., Callaghan, M. W., Fuss, S., Hilaire, J., Creutzig, F., et al. (2018). Negative emissions — Part 1 : research landscape and synthesis. Environ. Res. Lett. 13:053001. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/aabf9b

Bach, L. T., Gill, S. J., Rickaby, R. E. M., Gore, S. & Renforth, P. (2019) CO2 Removal With Enhanced Weathering and Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement: Potential Risks and Co-benefits for Marine Pelagic Ecosystems. Frontiers in Climate 1–21 doi:10.3389/fclim.2019.00007.

Ciais, P., Sabine, C., Bala, G., Bopp, L., Brovkin, V., Canadell, J., et al. (2013). “Carbon and other biogeochemical cycles,” in Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 465–570.



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