Have you ever come across an idea, product or solution that seems so right that you question why it hasn’t already existed? To me “Project Vestra” is one of these. The project’s vision is to spread green sand (olivine) on beaches to capture carbon dioxide, CO₂. All to combat climate change.
Top image: A natural green beach in Hawaii. Photo: Courtesy of Project Vesta
The proposed solution is both radically new and at the same time not new at all. It’s a natural process and it’s been going on since the formation of Earth, the carbonate-silicate cycle. The drawback – it takes eons when for humanity we only have decades.
Project Vesta will mine, crush and spread the mineral olivine as green sand on beaches all over the world. It may shorten the natural cycle from millions of years to months or years. The process at the same time de-acidifies the ocean beneficial for marine life. The first trial is in preparation in a yet undisclosed location in the Caribbean. Tropical hot, humid weather increases the speed of the process.
How does it work?
Rain falling on volcanic rocks, which contain high levels of the greenish mineral olivine, slowly breaks rocks into sand. When the green sand grains reach the ocean, it binds with CO₂ to form bicarbonate that de-acifies the ocean and that marine life as corals grow of. It eventually falls to the ocean floor as carbonate-rich sediments that later settle into rock. Some million and yet million years later after the rock has absorbed into Earth’s crust it may resurface as volcanic lava closing the circle. Project Vesta aims to speed up Nature’s own process.
So what are the main challenges? Discussions online lifts the need to mine Olivine plus that olivine can contain nickel which is harmful for marine life. To meet this the project will use hyper-accumulating to retrieve nickel ore when needed. For olivine there’s plenty found all over the plane for local sourcing. For the first beaches waste olivine rock will be used.
I may not be a scientist nor do I have the knowledge to evaluate Project Vesta but wow – what a large-scale project to improve Earth’s environment!
The project needs your help. Learn more at https://projectvesta.org