Project Vesta

Turning the tide on climate change
with green sand beaches

USING BEACHES TO ACCELERATE THE WEATHERING RATE OF OLIVINE ROCK TO REMOVE CO2

HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK?

The Long-Term Carbon Cycle
(Carbonate-Silicate Cycle)

Earth's natural long-term carbon cycle removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through a chemical reaction between volcanic rock, CO2, and water.

The process, which normally takes millions of years, involves rain interacting with CO2 and then breaking down rock and bringing the minerals from it into the ocean for use in shells and corals.

Without this carbonate-silicate cycle of water interacting with volcanic rocks to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, Earth would look like Venus.

The problem is this: humans are now putting out massive volumes of CO2 far too quickly for this rock weathering process to balance it out.

However, we have a method that combines and accelerates the process of volcanic rock weathering and its interaction with water.

The plan is to place the most optimal volcanic rock on high-energy beaches located throughout the tropics.

The warm water and constant tumbling motion of the waves will break the olivine down into small pieces and dramatically accelerate the chemical reaction that powers Earth's natural CO2 removal cycle.

HOW DO WE KNOW ROCK WEATHERING CAN WORK TO REMOVE CO2 ON A GLOBAL SCALE?

Observe how after volcanic rocks (orange), are exposed near the equator (green), ice extent then increases (blue). See: 450 Ma, 360 Ma, and 30 Ma

The Last 3 Ice Ages Were Caused By Volcanic Rock Weathering Near the Equator

Over geological time, global CO2 levels and the temperature of the climate are regulated through the exposure and weathering of volcanic rock near the equator. A paper published in the April 2019 issue of Science, adds to the accepted body of evidence that the last 3 ice ages were caused by the exposure and weathering of volcanic rock near the humid tropics.

The accompanying gif and graphs show how volcanic rock exposed near the equator correlates with increases in planetary ice cover. Starting around 50 million years ago (Ma), as the Himalayan Plateau begins to rise, so too does ice cover. Observe how, as volcanic rock (orange) becomes present near the equator (green), ice coverage begins to increase (blue).

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Project Vesta seeks to mimic this natural process but to greatly accelerate it because we do not have millions of years to wait.

We have the advantage that we can choose the most optimal and fastest weathering rock: Olivine.

And we can choose to put it in a place that will significantly accelerate the weathering and breakdown process: on the shores of warm, high-energy beaches.

"Spreading of olivine in the world’s 2% most energetic shelf seas can compensate a year’s global CO2 emissions and counteract ocean acidification...

Olivine application can make a significant contribution in the fight against climate change. The counteracting effect on ocean acidification is immediate.

Large-scale spreading of olivine in shelf seas with adequate tidal currents and wave action can be started at any moment."

R.D. Schuiling & P.L de Boer - Professors of Geoscience, Utrecht UniversityRolling Stones; Fast Weathering of Olivine in Shallow Seas For Cost-Effective CO2 Capture And Mitigation of Global Warming and Ocean Acidification (2011)

THE MAIN RESEARCH THAT INSPIRED OUR PROJECT

Rolling Stones: Fast Weathering of Olivine in Shallow Seas for Cost-Effective CO2 Capture and Mitigation of Global Warming and Ocean Acidification

Rolling stones – fast weathering of olivine in shallow seas for cost-effective CO2 capture and mitigation of global warming and ocean acidification

R.D. Schuiling & Poppe De Boer (2011)

Mitigation of CO2 Emissions by Stimulated Natural Rock Weathering: Faster Weathering of Olivine In High-Energy Shallow Seas

Mitigation of CO2 Emissions By Stimulated Natural Rock Weathering

Poppe de Boer & R. D. Schuiling (2015)

Olivine Against Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

Olivine against climate change and ocean acidification

R.D. Schuiling & Oliver Tickell (2009)

Project Vesta:

Turning The Tide On Climate Change With Green Beaches

Project Vesta is working to put the proposal of these scientists and others into action, to help turn the tide in our fight against climate change.

We are on a mission to remove all of our past emissions through the accelerated weathering of olivine rock on beaches.

We will do this by creating a first of its kind, global movement and network of beaches with enough olivine sand placed on them each year to remove at least an equivalent volume of humanity's yearly CO2 emissions.

To carry out this plan, it will take a volume of 7 cubic miles (~11 km^3) of olivine rock placed on 2% of the world's high-energy, tropical shelf-seas each year.

QUICK FACTS & STATS

Weathering Math:

1 ton of olivine weathered =
1.25 tons of CO2 removed.
The graphic below depicts the approx. cubic volume of 1.25 tons of CO2 in the atmosphere and the 1 ton volume of olivine needed to remove it.

Olivine Volume:

A volume of 7 cubic miles (11 km^3) of olivine, or around 30 Gigatons, is needed each year. This is less than half the volume of construction materials and less than that of fossil fuel equivalents mined yearly.

Shelf Seas Needed:

Only 2% of the world's shelf seas are needed, specifically those located around the equator. There are more than enough beaches with the optimal temperature and tidal forces.

Is There Enough Mineable Olivine?

Yes!

There is more than enough olivine for global scale CO2 removal for the foreseeable future. Olivine is the most abundant mineral in the upper mantle, making up over 50% of it. There large reserves all over the world found near the surface, in a formation called dunite, which consists of greater than 90% olivine. The current price is also attractive, at $25 a ton with the ability to go below $10 a ton with increased mining.

Can We Mine Enough Yearly?

Yes!

We already mine larger volumes of coal, barrel of oil equivalents, and construction minerals each year than the volume of olivine needed for the removal of humanity’s yearly CO2 output. This is doable, in fact, in China alone, there are more people working in coal mining than would be needed for global scale olivine mining (1-1.5 million people).

Weather Quickly Enough & Safe?

Yes!

6%-8% of the Earth’s shores are the type of high-energy, shelf-seas necessary to adequately accelerate olivine weathering. Of those, only 2% are needed for olivine weathering to remove 100% of humanity’s yearly CO2 output from the atmosphere. Olivine will weather rapidly in the surf due to grain-on-grain collisions and constant abrasion (see experiments below). Olivine is safe and even beneficial to the ecosystem.

THREE MAJOR BENEFITS

The weathering of olivine in oceans offers 3 major benefits to the planet, simultaneously: (1) removing and storing carbon, (2) deacidifying ocean water, and (3) fertilizing the ocean ecosystem.

01. Remove & Store CO2

The Earth stores the vast majority of its CO2 in rock as calcium carbonate. Corals and other marine animals use calcium carbonate to build their shells. The shells eventually turn into sediments and form limestone, trapping the CO2 for millions of years.

02. Deacidify

The resulting solution from the reaction of olivine, water, and CO2 is alkaline and therefore works to immediately combat ocean acidification by raising the pH level of water in the surrounding area.

03. Fertilize

A product of the olivine weathering reaction is silicate, which is the limiting factor for diatoms. Diatoms are a type of plankton threatened by climate change and their abundance and competition against dinoflagellates prevent algal blooms.

Project Vesta is based on research demonstrating that there are no insurmountable impediments, including availability, economics, and safety, to scaling this form of carbon dioxide removal all the way up to the level of yearly global CO2 emissions removal.

We have a plan to help us go from a pilot phase on a single beach all the way up to a planet-wide network of green sand beaches working to remove the entirety of humanity's CO2 emissions. See our Green Paper below, or read on for full details.

Will it be easy? No, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Pilot Test Beach

This field study will show the real-world dissolution rate of olivine at the proposed beach deployment site.

Impact Beach(es)

Olivine will be deployed on beaches around the world and work to galvanize action for CO2 removal.

Country Scale

Olivine beaches can scale so that individual countries with coastlines can offset their total CO2 output.

Regional Scale

Entire regions could collaborate to more efficiently scale up mining and distribution.

Global Scale

Olivine is located all over the world and a global effort would unite countries with varying resources, labor skills, and coastlines.

Our Green Paper:

We have a plan (outlined in our Green Paper and further below) to go from a single test beach to a global network of beaches with enough coastlines and large enough volume of olivine rock to offset all of the worlds CO2. Please read and share this paper to help us spread the science and potential of olivine for global scale carbon dioxide removal.

Project Vesta – Turning The Tide On Climate Change With Green Sand Beaches – Green Paper v1.2

Support the Project:

We are a non-profit, globally distributed entity that plans to get the public involved in CO2 removal and fund the process through hybrid means. Raising money through direction donations, but also through the sale of olivine jewelry created by a curated selection of artisans. The money spent on jewelry will correspond directly to the placement of a corresponding amount of olivine on one of our beaches. Get your Earth Stone below.

Pick Your Earth Stone

WHAT IS OLIVINE?

Among Earth's Most Abundant Minerals

Olivine is the first crystal to form from silica as magma cools. As such, it makes up more than 50% of the upper mantle and is one of the most common minerals by volume. There are vast reserves close to the surface, all over the world, and it is inexpensive to acquire.

Commonly Known as Peridot

Most non-geologists will be more familiar with the gemstone quality version of olivine, known as peridot. It is typically green, but its color can vary depending on the exact chemical makeup of the rock.

Forsterite: The Magnesium Rich Olivine

Made up of magnesium and silica (Mg2SiO4), this type of olivine is most suitable for weathering accelerated weathering. Even if all human CO2 emissions for 100 years were offset in the ocean by olivine, the magnesium content of the ocean would only rise from 1296 to 1296.6 ppm and the bicarbonate content from 42 to 45 ppm, which is within normal global ocean water concentration ranges.

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WHY OLIVINE?

Rapidly Weatherable

Olivine is the most easily weatherable of the silicates and forms bicarbonate when it comes in contact with CO2, water, and the molecules dissolved in it. This removes CO2 from the atmosphere and water and traps the carbon indefinitely.

Extremely Cheap

Olivine rock can be acquired on the market today for less than $25 per ton. As demand increases and new and larger olivine mines open, the price will go down significantly. Basic models on similar open pit rock mines demonstrate a price below $10.
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Highly Abundant

Olivine is found all over the world, with huge reserves in vast formations typically occurring near the surface. Significant quantities are sitting as waste piles on the property of old mines.
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OLIVINE WEATHERING REACTION

Weathering is the breakdown of rocks from contact with CO2, water, and organisms. When olivine interacts with ocean water and the CO2 dissolved in it, it undergoes a reaction that binds the carbon dioxide in bicarbonate, which is then used by animals, including corals, in their shells.

Those shells go on to settle in the sediment and eventually turn into limestone rock. Small and safe amounts of magnesium and silicate are left over from the reaction. The silicate is desperately needed by a crucial species of plankton known as diatoms, which themselves, further sink carbon.

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We utilize Forsterite, the Magnesium rich form of olivine.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) dissolves into the ocean at a higher rate as the atmosphere contains more CO2
The CO2 is transformed into bicarbonate, and will eventually turn to CaCO3, calcium carbonate, which is used by marine animals like corals for their shells.
Bicarbonate is alkaline and so its creation in the water raises the pH making the water less acidic.
Silicate is the limiting factor for diatoms. Diatoms are a type of plankton that makes up the base of many marine food chains. They are threatened by increasing ocean acidification and nutrient deficiencies. This silicate increases their numbers, and they in turn further sink carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.
Corals use the calcium carbonate to build their shells. Over time, as more and more corals build on top of them, they sink and become limestone rock, which is eventually (on geological timescales) is subducted back into the center of the Earth.
Even at the proposed, full-scale yearly CO2 offsetting level, with a volume of 7 miles^3 (11 km^3) of olivine put on beaches each year for 100 years, it would only raise the magnesium level from 1296 to 1296.6 ppm (and bicarbonate from 42 to 45 ppm), which is within normal global ocean water concentration ranges.

WHY USE WARM, HIGH-ENERGY, SHELF-SEA BEACHES?

Mechanical Activation!

When olivine is stationary it can take a long time to weather because of a silica (H4SiO2) coating that builds up during the weathering reaction. However, when olivine is tumbled and kept in motion, it not only removes the coating but rapidly accelerates the weathering process by breaking the rock into smaller pieces, that themselves weather much more rapidly. The warmer the water, and higher the energy, the faster the rate at which the weathering process occurs.

Stationary Olivine

The weathering reaction creates a silica (H4SiO4) coating around the remaining olivine material, represented here with solid yellow lines. When stationary, this coating dramatically slows down further weathering. Most calculations of olivine weathering rates assume the rock is stationary. But our plan is to remove that coating with motion. Notice how much smoother the rocks in the next picture look after just 3 days of motion in a tabletop shaker.

Mechanically Activated Olivine

When olivine is mechanically activated, such as when it is tumbled by waves on a beach or dragged along the seafloor by strong bed shear forces, the coating is continually destroyed, which allows the weathering reaction to proceed rapidly. This is shown above by the dashed yellow lines, but also notice the smoothness of the rocks after just 3 days of motion. The tumbling chips off small pieces of olivine that themselves then rapidly weather.

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WHERE'S THE PROOF OF ACCELERATED WEATHERING WITH MOTION?

A very basic experiment with a tabletop shaker can demonstrate the weathering rate of olivine and show how the tumbling motion creates small particles, that themselves weather faster. There are other factors of an open-air, tropical beach with tumbling that, can further accelerate the process, such as a constant refreshing of warm water and the presence of marine animals.

Erlenmeyer flasks were put on a table top rotary shaker so that the grains kept rotating along the bottom. The flasks were open to the air, permitting CO2 exchange. Three different grain sizes were used, the images below show coarse grain sizes. The tap water had an initial pH of 8.22, and the olivine grains had been washed to remove any attached dust.

Olivine Before Desktop Weathering Experiment

Coarse (2-5mm) olivine grains in clear water, with a pH of 8.22 at the start of the experiment.

Olivine After 10 Days of Weathering

The shaking process caused the olivine to break into fine pieces and caused the water to become cloudy. After 6 hours the pH had risen to 8.82 and after 24 hours, the pH had risen to 9.02.

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The flasks with the coarse olivine were cloudier and had a higher pH, which shows that coarser grains produce more slivers than the finer grains, because of their greater mass and heavier impacts. This type of experiment shows that any calculations that do not take into account the importance of grain-to-grain collisions on weathering rate are not applicable to our plan for accelerated weathering on beaches.

Further, the full weathering rate was limited here by the lack of refreshing the water. A build-up of reaction products causes a significant slowdown in weathering. Most criticisms of the concept of enhanced weathering make their calculations based on stationary olivine. They do not take either grain-on-grain collisions or the refreshing of water into account.

Therefore, papers that attempt to comment on the feasibility of accelerated silicate weathering, all incorrectly calculate the olivine weathering rate. This includes papers such as those of Lal (2008), Hangx and Spiers (2009), Köhler et al (2010), Pronost et al. (2011) and others. Their rates are not applicable to our project because they do not make calculations that take into account the effects of motion on the silicate coatings, grain-on-grain collisions, warm temperatures, marine animal usage of olivine, and/or the refreshing of water.

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Size Distribution of Olivine Grains

After 12 days of continuous motion on the desktop shaker, the grain size of olivine had dramatically changed, and the total weight was at 9 grams, when the initial sample had weighed 30 grams.

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Full Data on Olivine Weathering Experiments

LARGER EXPERIMENT WITH FURTHER PROOF THAT THE OLIVINE WEATHERING RATE IS DEPENDENT ON MOTION

This experiment was carried out using a large recirculating flume filled with coarse sand made up approximately ~30% of olivine with all fine-grained sediments removed prior to the start.

The water was moved at a speed to model basic ocean currents of 40-60 cm/sec. When the water flows, the olivine is transported and tumbled as can be observed in the accompanying animated image.

Video courtesy of Prof. dr. Poppe de Boer (Personal Communication)

As can be seen in the graph below, when the water is refreshed the pH is measured at 8-8.05. As the olivine weathering occurs, the alkalinity of the reaction causes the water's pH to rise to ~8.3 pH. When the current is stopped, a silica coating rapidly forms on the olivine, which greatly slows down the reaction. Without the olivine reacting and with CO2 continuing to enter through the open-air by diffusion, the pH drops down to ~8.1 pH.

The non-connected points in the above graph are when the current was stopped. During the first break of 2 days, as grain collisions stop, the pH of the water falls. When the water is refreshed and motion resumes, the pH is seen to rapidly rise as the olivine tumbles and breaks down.

This mechanical activation is crucial for the acceleration of the weathering rate. This is why Project Vesta plans to use high-energy, tropical beaches to weather olivine and also why any discussion of the olivine weathering rate that doesn't include motion does not apply to our project.

Olivine Sand Beaches

In order to mechanically activate the olivine and prevent a buildup of silica, we will take advantage of the constant tumbling motion of waves and the power of tidal forces.

The constant refreshing of warm water with high oceanic CO2 concentrations makes tropical beaches the ideal place to accelerate olivine weathering on a large scale.

Beautiful olivine sand beaches occur naturally, such as Papakōlea Beach in Hawaii (and featured in the background). They are safe for humans and wildlife and our plan is to intentionally create a lot more of them.

THE PLAN

From Pilot Project to Global Scale Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Removal

We have an incremental plan to take us from a single test beach to the removal of the entirety of humanity's yearly CO2 emissions. Our plan is to begin with a small scale test beach that demonstrates and proves the real world dissolution rate of olivine on high-energy, tropical beaches. From there, we will create a series of fullscale beaches, then on to countries, then regions, and we won't stop until we have a global network of beaches.

We have engaged with Dutch Engineering firm Deltares to help us design, deploy and monitor a pilot project on a test beach. We will go into details further below (feel free to click on individual Phases now), but first, we want to tell you a bit more about the project and our vision.

Pilot Test Beach

This field study will show the real-world dissolution rate of olivine at the proposed beach deployment site.

Impact Beach(es)

Olivine will be deployed on beaches around the world and work to galvanize action for CO2 removal.

Country Scale

Olivine beaches can scale so that individual countries with coastlines can offset their total CO2 output.

Regional Scale

Entire regions could collaborate to more efficiently scale up mining and distribution.

Global Scale

Olivine is located all over the world and a global effort would unite countries with varying resources, labor skills, and coastlines.

Earth Stones Instead of Birth Stones

Selling Jewelry to Fund Carbon Removal and Start a Movement

By wearing our olivine and peridot jewelry, conscious individuals create a direct connection to the removal of their carbon dioxide footprint and have a symbol of their responsible balance between themselves and the planet.

The jewelry purchase and donation directly corresponds to a specific tonnage of olivine we will place on a beach in the wearer's name for accelerated weathering to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Instead of "Birth Stones" these are "Earth Stones" and when people inquire about the jewelry, the wearer can spread the message of carbon removal and of existential hope that we as humanity can win the war on climate change. To win though, we must fight, and accelerated olivine weathering is the most powerful tool in our arsenal.

Pick Your Earth Stone
Not Leaving Footprints

Price of Jewelry Corresponds to Olivine Placed On Beaches

The price paid for each piece of jewelry will correspond directly to a tonnage of olivine placed on a beach for accelerated weathering. The idea is that a purchase of approximately $300-$360/year or $25-$30/month will allow us to place enough olivine on a beach to remove a year's worth of a US person's CO2 emissions.

Our goal is to have our organization operations funded separately from the donations for jewelry, from sources such as foundations, grants and family offices, so that as much money as possible, after accounting for materials and fair wages for artists, will go directly to olivine placement on the beaches.

Pick Your Earth Stone

Realigning Society's Values On Carbon

Our society has assigned an extremely high value to diamonds and indirectly to the carbon from which diamonds are composed. But, for various reasons, diamonds no longer truly represent our values. So our goal at Project Vesta, is to help shift society to the new values of our time, such as sustainability and planetary harmony, and in turn, shift the dollar value spent on the past compression of carbon, to the dollar value of future carbon removal. A diamond may be forever, but the hospitable climate we are fortunate enough to live in, may not be.

Focusing On Our Future

We hope to create a movement that shifts the value from the past carbon compressed in a diamond ring to the carbon that can be removed from the atmosphere with the equivalent money spent on an olivine/peridot ring. Imagine the impact of showing your love with a ring that looks towards the future and represents the future carbon offset of an entire relationship and family. With your help, we can make this a reality, and we can make the future a place where we want to live, and where we feel positive about our relationship with the planet and prospects for our offspring.

Buying Us More Time

A Grain of Hope

Help support Project Vesta Today by donating $25 or more and receive our “Grain of Hope” Necklace. These necklaces contain a single grain of olivine, suspended in a sand timer vial. A symbol of our hope that even though time is ticking, it is not too late to put a stop to the destruction of our planet and environment as we know (and love) it.

In the future, each $25 of a donation will equate directly to 1 ton of olivine being placed on a beach and a corresponding 1.25 tons of CO2 removed from the atmosphere. But, as we do not have a beach yet, this donation is helping us get to that point.

It also gives you something you can wear to show that you care about saving the planet, and when people ask about it, you can help by sharing our mission to stop climate change and ultimately reverse it. We do not have to sit idle while our planet is destroyed and we would love your help in spreading that vision (and olivine on beaches).

Pick Your Earth Stone
Increasing Demand, Increasing Supply, and Decreasing Prices

Pushing the Price of Olivine Down

Because there is currently limited demand for olivine, the price remains at a premium. Being one of the most abundant minerals in the upper mantle, there are large untapped reserves of olivine in massive formations. Once tapped into, these new reserves can dramatically increase the supply, and thereby dramatically lower the price of olivine. We need your help to create the demand.

The Greensands organization has been selling olivine for agricultural dispersion and other CO2 removal uses for the last decade and has seen the price of olivine plummet from around €200/ton to around €25/ton as they went from 0 tons/year to 30,000 tons/year.

The actual cost of mining and milling the rock is only about $7/ton and transport is only $3/ton, so it is possible to bring the price per olivine ton spread on a beach to $10 per ton. So with 1.25 tons of CO2 removed for each 1 ton of olivine weathered, the cost per ton of CO2 removed from the atmosphere can be less than $10/ton.

Maximizing Our Impact, By Minimizing Humanity's Environmental Impact

Project Vesta Structure

Our overriding goal is to get as much olivine weathering on beaches as possible. This means bringing together the financial resources, scientific knowledge, high-energy beaches, and olivine reserves to maximize the carbon removed from the atmosphere.

We plan to make our organization as lean as possible so that the overwhelming majority of funds go to olivine mining, milling, and distribution onto beaches. Project Vesta is operating as a non-profit with a goal of not just spreading awareness for the potential of olivine to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, but to actually actively spread olivine on beaches to directly remove that carbon dioxide.

We will explore all viable options to maximize impact and CO2 removal, which could include potential future revenue streams such as selling carbon credits, high pH olivine mineral water, and olivine directly to farmers and others for soil enrichment. All funds will always be kept within the organization in a publicly beneficial, not-for-profit manner, to fulfill our mission of lowering the price of olivine and thereby increasing the volume of olivine we can afford to place on beaches.

The Plan

From Pilot Project to Global Scale Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Removal

Pilot Test Beach

This field study will show the real-world dissolution rate of olivine at the proposed beach deployment site.

Impact Beach(es)

Olivine will be deployed on beaches around the world and work to galvanize action for CO2 removal.

Country Scale

Olivine beaches can scale so that individual countries with coastlines can offset their total CO2 output.

Regional Scale

Entire regions could collaborate to more efficiently scale up mining and distribution.

Global Scale

Olivine is located all over the world and a global effort would unite countries with varying resources, labor skills, and coastlines.

Phase I: Pilot Test Beach

Small scale project to measure the real-world weathering rate of olivine on actual beaches

The purpose of Phase I is to create a project in the real world that can prove to the scientific community that the real world dissolution rate is as fast as our preliminary research shows, to confirm the benefits to the ecosystem, and demonstrate safety for the marine animals before we scale up.

We plan to make our experiment as open-source and collaborative as possible. We are calling for input from the scientific community, so that any lingering questions or criticisms related to weathering rates and effects on the ecosystem can be addressed through science and not speculation.

We are working with Dutch engineering firm, Deltares, to create an experimental protocol and formula that will be able to be utilized by future beach projects. As each beach will have slightly different olivine weathering rates, due to temperature, pH of water, and energetic potential of the specific beach. We will create a model that can calculate accurate olivine weathering rates based on the properties of a given beach.

Phase II: Impact Beach(es)

The world's first intentional green sand beaches designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

In the same way impact craters from asteroids altered the Earth’s environment and the course of history, we hope our Impact Beaches will alter the course of our history. These beaches will serve as a beacon of hope, as a way out of our CO2 nightmare, representing a functional, scalable and financially viable solution to proactively remove the massive quantities of CO2 we have put into the atmosphere.

While we will start with just one Impact Beach, the plan is to create a large network of these beaches all around the world in the tropics. As a decentralized, non-profit organization, Project Vesta will act as a scientific clearinghouse for vetting new beaches and providing scientific and technical oversight on their deployment, including calculating olivine weathering rates, environmental impact, and sourcing of local olivine.

We plan to work with local partners where we can find the trifecta of optimal beaches, friendly governments, and adequate olivine reserves. The Impact Beach(es) will serve as eco-tourism locations where people can learn about CO2 removal and serve as organizing headquarters for creating a movement that seeks to restore and protect our planet from CO2 induced climatic damage.

Phase III: Carbon Neutral Countries

As countries aim to reach carbon neutrality, they will need olivine sand beaches to help them achieve it

The race to become the first carbon-neutral country is on and even countries with 100% renewable power sources will struggle to offset the CO2 created from the internal combustion engines of non-electric vehicles and industrial factories. By removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the spreading of olivine on their coastlines, countries will have a scalable and financially viable technique available today, that can allow them to reach their goals.

As an example, Costa Rica, which is looking to decarbonize completely by 2050, has an issue that 60% of its emissions are currently generated by vehicles. Even though they had 300 days of 100% renewable energy generation last year, they still have to deal with the emissions of all those vehicles. It will take decades to switch to an all-electric fleet and requires new infrastructure and societal conditioning.2829

Costa Rica has ample shelf-sea coastlines and warm enough water alongside the entire country that they could deploy olivine on a large scale nearly anywhere they desire. With a 2016 level of only 1.71 tons of CO2 emissions per capita, it would only require 1.368 tons of olivine to be weathered per person to remove 100% of their CO2 footprint. At that scale, even with the price of olivine at $20 per ton, it would cost just $27.72 per person for the country to be 100% carbon neutral (removing an equivalent of the country’s yearly total output of 8,328.9 kt of CO2).  With a population of 4.9 million and a GDP of $57 billion, the $135,994,320 cost for the project would be less than 0.2% of their GDP.
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Phase IV: Regional Scale Removal

The atmosphere spans borders, and so should our efforts to remove carbon from it

Regions can benefit by working together to take advantage of the varying distributions of resources, labor, and geography. By working together they can also reach a scale that dramatically pushes down the price per ton of CO2 removed from the atmosphere. CO2 put out by one country, affects the atmosphere of all countries, so it makes sense to work together toward a common goal and to hold each other accountable for our emissions.

In the case of Western Europe, there is an opportunity for countries to team up to offset a greater amount of CO2 than their output. There is an area of the ocean just off the coast of the UK, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, known as the Southern Bight of the North Sea. This area has extremely strong underwater currents (known as bed shear stress forces) that are capable of sediment transport that could essentially tumble olivine underwater without the need for beaches.31

Let’s look at the hard numbers on this project and the real logistics of loading, unloading, and transporting the olivine on a scale that would remove an equivalent of 1.5 gigatons of CO2, about 5% of the worlds yearly CO2 emissions, by weathering 1.2 gigatons of olivine. The plan involves transporting olivine by boat and utilizing an area of 35,000 km^2 out of an adequate area totaling of 250,000 km^2 that has underwater forces capable of transporting and accelerating the weathering of olivine.

  • 1.2 gigatons (gt) of olivine is 3000 megacarrier loads of 400,000 metric tons of olivine.
  • Based on a model for a 5,000 tonnes per day mine in the USA, the cost of mining and crushing volcanic rock is $7.32 / metric ton.
  • For transport, we would use self-unloading megacarriers that can each hold 200,000 tons of olivine.
  • Loading and unloading of mega carrier takes (4-5 days)*2 = 10 days
  • Speed 15.4 knots (28.5 km/h; 17.7 mph) = 650 km/day
  • Travel Outbound/Inbound (~ 2000 km)*2 = 4000 km = 6 days
  • Cost of 200,000 ton megacarrier daily operations = ~$40,000/day
  • Loading, travel to location, unloading, and travel back = 16 days (although can be less with partial unloading while traveling)
  • 16 days x $40,000 = $640,000
  • $640,000 operational cost of loading+dumping+travel/200,000 tons per boat = $3.20 cost to distribute each ton
  • $3.20 (distribution cost) + $7.32 mining cost = $10.62 / ton of olivine to reach weathering destination in ocean
  • $10.62/1.25 (1.25 tons of CO2 removed for each 1 ton of olivine weathered)

=~$8.50 per ton of CO2 removed from atmopshere and ocean

Phase V: Globally Distributed Beachheads

It will take the planet to save the planet

Project Vesta is based on research demonstrating that there are no insurmountable impediments to scaling this form of carbon dioxide removal all the way up to the level of yearly global CO2 emissions removal.

Each red dot above represents a large reserve consisting of greater than 90% olivine. We have more than adequate olivine reserves, mining abilities, and applicable coastlines.

Will it be easy? No, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Is There Enough Mineable Olivine?

Yes!

There is more than enough olivine for global scale CO2 removal for the foreseeable future. Olivine is the most abundant mineral in the upper mantle, making up over 50% of it. There large reserves all over the world found near the surface, in a formation called dunite, which consists of greater than 90% olivine. The current price is also attractive, at $25 a ton with the ability to go below $10 a ton with increased mining. The CO2 loss on mining is only about 4%.

Can We Mine Enough Yearly?

Yes!

We already mine larger volumes of coal, barrel of oil equivalents, and construction minerals each year than the volume of olivine needed for the removal of humanity’s yearly CO2 output, which is about 7 cubic miles (11 km^3) of olivine. This is doable, in fact, in China alone, there are more people working in coal mining than would be needed for global scale olivine mining (1-1.5 million people).

Weather Quickly Enough & Safe?

Yes!

6%-8% of the Earth’s shores are the type of high-energy, shelf-seas necessary to adequately accelerate olivine weathering. Of those, only 2% are needed for olivine weathering to remove 100% of humanity’s yearly CO2 output from the atmosphere. Olivine will weather rapidly in the surf due to grain-on-grain collisions and constant abrasion (see experiments below). Olivine is safe and even beneficial to the ecosystem.

Increased Mining

There is more than enough olivine on earth to remove all of humanity’s yearly CO2 output from the atmosphere through accelerated weathering. The optimal starting point is to utilize large individual large mines (over 100 million tons/year) in areas close to shorelines that would provide olivine for applicable beaches within 300 km of the mine. And then to further minimize transportation costs and CO2 footprint as we move to global scale, it is projected we would need 30-50 new mines located through the tropics.

Economy of Scale

At current prices, olivine is already among the cheapest solution per ton of CO2 removed from the atmosphere and is the most viable technique available to reliably remove carbon on a global scale. Today, crushed olivine can be purchased at the port of Rotterdam for about $25/ton, but through economies of scale and increases in demand, we hope to bring the price down to less than $10/ton of CO2 captured.

Global Costs

Climate change is going to cost the world trillions of dollars in damage and lost economic value, with models predicting a cost of up to $67 trillion from Arctic melt alone. For a comparatively “inexpensive” $250 billion per year, however, the entire world can remove an equivalent amount of the CO2 it releases each year with olivine. This is not meant as a free pass for countries to continue releasing their emissions but is meant as a mechanism to buy time for countries while they work to cease their CO2 release.

These are other aspects to keep in mind for global anthropogenic level CO2 emission removal:

  • Involve the spreading of olivine grains over large areas for a number of years, as well as the monitoring of these operations.
  • Weathering is most rapid in humid tropical climates
  • Create a large shift in demand in the mining sector, moving olivine from a minor commodity into third place behind construction materials and coal.
  • Larger the mines the better, with greater than 100 million tons/year, allowing maximization from the economies of scale
  • We may utilize lower wages in developing countries with a lack of other valuable exports, to further lower the olivine price and also to maximize the benefit on society in developing countries by creating millions of jobs.
  • Some dunites contain sub-economical contents of chromite, nickel or platinum minerals. By mining them for olivine, it may become economical to recover these by-products as well. This holds also for kimberlites, the host rock of diamonds, where marginal diamond grades may become economical if the rock is mined and crushed to spread kimberlite.
  • Global CO2 sequestration would cost approximately $250 billion (which is cheap considering a recent paper published in Nature, estimated the economic costs of the Arctic permafrost melting alone could cost $67 trillion)
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The only part of the equation that is truly uncertain at this point is if society will act in time to prevent catastrophic damage to our planet, but Project Vesta is here to help with that part, and we invite you to join us.

Help Us Crush The Olivine Price and Spread Crushed Olivine On Beaches Around The World

This project needs your help to make a significant impact on the planet and the planet’s atmosphere.

Sources:

  1. Arc-continent collisions in the tropics set Earth’s climate state
  2. Tectonics in the tropics trigger Earth’s ice ages, study finds
  3. Basalt weathering laws and the impact of basalt weathering on the global carbon cycle
  4. Global chemical weathering and associated P-release — The role of lithology, temperature and soil properties
  5. Low-latitude arc–continent collision as a driver for global cooling
  6. Modulation of Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic climate by variable drawdown of atmospheric pCO2 from weathering of basaltic provinces on continents drifting through the equatorial humid belt
  7. Onset and ending of the late Palaeozoic ice age triggered by tectonically paced rock weathering
  8. Geochemical evidence supporting T. C. Chamberlin’s theory of glaciation
  9. The Sturtian ‘snowball’ glaciation: fire and ice
  10. An Attempt to Frame a Working Hypothesis of the Cause of Glacial Periods on an Atmospheric Basis
  11. The need for mass balance and feedback in the geochemical carbon cycle
  12. Tropical weathering of the Taconic orogeny as a driver for Ordovician cooling
  13. Global silicate weathering and CO2 consumption rates deduced from the chemistry of large rivers
  14. Basalt weathering laws and the impact of basalt weathering on the global carbon cycle
  15. Carbon dioxide disposal in carbonate minerals
  16. Erosion of Deccan Traps determined by river geochemistry: impact on the global climate and the 87Sr/86Sr ratio of seawater
  17. Mitigation of CO2 Emissions by Stimulated Natural Rock Weathering
  18. Olivine against climate change and ocean acidification
  19. Cost Model for a 5,000 ton/day Open Pit Mine
  20. Carbon Dioxide Fixation within Mine Wastes of Ultramafic-Hosted Ore Deposits: Examples from the Clinton Creek and Cassiar Chrysotile Deposits, Canada
  21. Rolling Stones; Fast Weathering of Olivine in Shallow Seas for Cost-Effective CO2 Capture and Mitigation of Global Warming and Ocean Acidification
  22. Rolling Stones; Fast Weathering of Olivine in Shallow Seas for Cost-Effective CO2 Capture and Mitigation of Global Warming and Ocean Acidification
  23. Rolling Stones; Fast Weathering of Olivine in Shallow Seas for Cost-Effective CO2 Capture and Mitigation of Global Warming and Ocean Acidification
  24. Coastal spreading of olivine to control atmospheric CO2 concentrations: A critical analysis of viability. Comment: Nature and laboratory models are different
  25. Rolling Stones; Fast Weathering of Olivine in Shallow Seas for Cost-Effective CO2 Capture and Mitigation of Global Warming and Ocean Acidification
  26. Mitigation of CO2 Emissions by stimulated natural rock weathering
  27. Rolling Stones; Fast Weathering of Olivine in Shallow Seas for Cost-Effective CO2 Capture and Mitigation of Global Warming and Ocean Acidification
  28. World Bank: Championing Costa Rica’s Transition to Clean Transportation Systems
  29. Decarbonization Plan Government of Costa Rica(PDF)
  30. Costa Rica World Bank Data
  31. Modelling tidal current‐induced bed shear stress and palaeocirculation in an epicontinental seaway: the Bohemian Cretaceous Basin, Central Europe
  32. Olivine Against Climate Change and Ocean Acidification