About Project Vesta

Project Vesta was created after a sweeping review of existing and proposed carbon dioxide removal technologies and techniques. While evaluating the potential for the various methods, the enhanced coastal olivine weathering stood out as having the greatest potential for global scale carbon dioxide removal. It makes sense, as it is a nature-based solution, which the Earth has used on geological time scales to balance CO2 emissions. The process is known as the “global thermostat” and the weathering of silicates and carbonate rocks itself is the process by which 99.9% of carbon on Earth has become stored in rock and sediment. 

Knowing the process of weathering is Earth’s main mechanism for CO2 removal that can alter global temperatures, the next question becomes one of how we can harness and mimic this process on a timescale that is relevant for our current needs. If we can efficiently speed up the process, enhanced weathering offers us the ability to remove as much CO2 as is required. There are enough rocks available to bring the atmospheric CO2 levels back to pre-industrial levels. Project Vesta’s proposal to use beaches to mill olivine from nearby reserves is a solution for CO2 removal that is permanent, cost-effective, does not rely on the creation of any new technologies, and does not compete for scare arable land resources.

Previous proposals for weathering minerals have called for open ocean distribution of olivine from boats, but require fine particles (the size of flour grains) that would be able to weather before they reached the bottom of the ocean where it is cold and calm. These proposals are limited in feasibility due to the energy use required for grinding the particles to such a fine size and the energy use in distributing the minerals. Our process of using beaches was inspired by the work of R.D. Schuiling and Poppe De Boer, who in many ways were ahead of their time in proposing the innovative solution of using coastal environments to rapidly weathering larger grains of olivine. Unfortunately, there have been no real-world pilot projects to demonstrate the accelerated weathering rate of olivine in the coastal environment.

Project Vesta was formed to change that by deploying a pilot project. Our mission is to push the science forward and demonstrate to the world that safe, efficient, permanent, rapid, and inexpensive carbon removal is possible with coastal enhanced weathering. Project Vesta picks up where the work of these scientists and many others have left off, taking their science and experimental data from the lab and bringing it to the beach, as our poster from the American Geophysical Union’s Fall 2019 Meeting, titled “Enhanced Olivine Weathering From the Lab to the Beach,” lays out. Our methodology for overcoming the energy efficiency and cost limitations utilizes two innovations: 1) to minimize transport costs by using local reserves of olivine and 2) to minimize energy use in milling by utilizing high-energy beaches to to put the olivine in motion, creating grain-on-grain collisions that rapidly break down the rock and accelerate the weathering rate.

An initial Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of our process that shows if we limit our grain size of grinding to the millimeter level and transport distance to less than 300 km, we can remain 95% efficient. This means we are able to remove 20X more CO2 than is released in the process of mining, milling and transport. By utilizing the natural, free energy of wave-power on tropical beaches to accelerate the weathering process, we can overcome both the energy use needed for fine milling, and also accelerate the weathering rate greatly by constantly removing a coating that normally forms on partially weathered olivine. 

Project Vesta is currently raising funds through direct donations and grants to help make this project a reality. We are hoping to get this project “on” the ground, with sand on the beach in 2020. We will start with a Phase Ia Safety Study in a bay to demonstrate the potential co-benefits of ocean deacidification and increased dissolved silica available to diatoms. Once the safety of adding olivine to a new location is established, we will carry out a Phase Ib Speed Study on a high-energy beach to demonstrate the real-world weathering rate of olivine when it is constantly tumbled, in warm, acidic water.

Once we have demonstrated the safety and the speed through our pilot projects and additional research, we plan to create and release a universal algorithm/model that can be used to determine specific weathering rates and life cycle efficiencies from the given set of inputs of any specific projects. This way, projects can be deployed all over the world and will be able to determine their net CO2 removal and annualized cost per tonne of CO2 removed. We plan to work with others and release this model to the world and to assist organizations and governments create a global network of green sand beaches working to counteract up to the entirety of the total current CO2 output by humans and eventually bring atmospheric CO2 back to pre-industrial levels.

Project Vesta’s overriding goal is to demonstrate that the coastal enhanced weathering process is safe, economically viable, and is able to remove CO2 quickly enough to help contribute to removing the 1 trillion tonnes of CO2 that will need to be removed by 2100 to give us even a chance at keeping global temperature increases below 1.5°C (2.7°F).  We operate as a  non-profit, under the fiscal sponsorship of Far Away Project, a 501(c)3 entity registered in California. We recently completed our first round of presenting scientific poster presentations to the scientific communities at the Drawdown Conference, Deep Carbon Observatory, and the American Geophysical Union and have laid our experimental design. We are now in the process of sourcing an optimal beach for our Pilot Phase I (a) Safety Study.

Our plan is to get this done the “right way” – by proving both the safety and weathering rate, and then working to deploy it on as many beaches as possible, as soon as possible. We are looking for collaborators of all kinds to work with to make the project a reality. Whether you are a concerned human being, a scientist, foundation, potential donor, student, government, policy maker, or just a rock lover if you can help in any way, do not hesitate to contact us. Climate change is a problem that no individual or country can solve on their own. To solve climate change, it will take a global [dis]solution.

Sincerely,

The Project Vesta Team

Team

Eric Matzner

Eric started Climitigation, a climate change mitigation think tank, to help evaluate and promote promising technologies and techniques to reverse climate change. In that process, he discovered the concept of accelerated olivine weathering and as he dug deeper and deeper into the concept, he became more and more convinced it was one of the few viable techniques available today that can truly scale to permanently sequester all of humanity's yearly CO2 output at a reasonable price. It became apparent that this concept needed to be brought from the pages of scientific journals to the beaches of the world. Eric has since dedicated himself to help make these carbon sequestering, olivine sand beaches a reality.

Kelly Erhart

Kelly’s passion for innovation and environmental stewardship has led her to devoting herself to focus on areas where she sees the largest imminent threats to our planet. She is committed to reframing complex issues into solutions that foster market emergence and facilitate growth for impactful technologies. She has cultivated a multidisciplinary background, with experience in international event production, disaster relief project management, and commercialization of sustainable technologies and carbon capture methods. She is currently Co Founder & COO of Ecozoic Resources, a waterless biofiltration toilet company.

David Sneider

As a member of the crew of spaceship Earth, David knows we're all in this together. He is the creator of Galactic Tick Day, a holiday celebrating the motion of the solar system around the milky way. Inspired to create Galactic Tick Day by the Overview Effect, he continues to work to help humanity realize that we need to work together to solve our collective problems. His work on Project Vesta is a continuation of this desire to help humanity, by getting us to work together to solve our collective climate problem so we can thrive on this planet for many more ticks of the Galactic Clock. David is also the Founder of the Decentralized Collaboration Network.

Scientific Advisors and Partners

Pol Knops

Technical Adviser and Olivine Dissolution Kinetics Expert

Pol has a Master of Science in Applied Physics and enjoys being active in sustainable energy projects. Pol is an author on numerous papers related olivine weathering, including "Olivine Dissolution in Seawater: Implications for CO2 Sequestration through Enhanced Weathering in Coastal Environments" and "Integrated mineral carbonation reactor technology for sustainable carbon dioxide sequestration:‘CO2 Energy Reactor.'" He is an expert in the field of olivine dissolution kinetics and is currently the CTO at Green Minerals where he works to explore industrial and commercial uses for olivine.

Francesc Montserrat

Francesc Montserrat

Marine Ecologist and Coastal Olivine Weathering Expert

Francesc has studied the functional ecology of bottom organisms and their relationship with the environment, focusing on benthic ecosystems such as intertidal flats, coral reefs and rocky shores. Francesc has experience in experimental marine ecology, including environmental impact studies and marine habitat monitoring projects. He has conducted fieldwork studies on the natural green sand olivine beach in Hawaii (Papakōlea) including sampling corals there. Francesc has published and contributed to numerous papers on olivine weathering in coastal environments and has spent years exploring methodologies to increase natural marine carbon sinks.

Deltares

Dutch Independent Institute for Applied Research in the Field of Water, Subsurface and Infrastructure.

Deltares is a Dutch independent institute for applied research in the field of water, subsurface and infrastructure. Throughout the world, they work on smart solutions, innovations and applications for people, environment and society. Deltares' main focus is on deltas, coastal regions and river basins. Managing these densely populated and vulnerable areas is complex, which is why they work closely with governments, businesses, other research institutes and universities at home and abroad. Their motto is Enabling Delta Life. For Deltares the quality of our expertise and advice is foremost. Knowledge is their core business.