Vesta – a mission-driven company dedicated to apply long-term carbon dioxide removal solutions, launched its first demonstration project in Southampton. It involves adding a small amount of olivine sand mixed with beach sand to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and restore the eroding coastline.
The project is executed by NSBC Beach Erosion Control District (NSBC-BECD), formed by the Southampton Town Board, that mainly aims to tackle shoreline erosion. Vesta entered into talks with the Town Of Southampton back in 2021 to look into the opportunity of amending the restoration project to add olivine sand to the mix, equaling 5% of the total nourishment volume, which sequesters CO2 from the air.
After close to a year of project scoping and stakeholder engagement with NSBC, Southampton Town, US Army Corps Of Engineers (USACE), local organizations, and state and federal regulatory agencies, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a permit to the Town of Southampton in March 2022 authorizing the addition of 500 cubic yards of olivine sand to the NSBC-BECD beach restoration project.
The North Sea Beach, like many coastal areas, is experiencing shoreline erosion. Over the last decade, New York alone has deployed more than 25 million cubic yards of sand to restore eroding coastlines in the state through a method called beach nourishment – a shoreline protection approach used in the USA and worldwide for over a century to replenish eroding beaches with sand.
Vesta works with local communities in both public and private sectors to inform, plan, and design field pilots to implement an approach called Coastal Carbon Capture. The process involves adding olivine to the beach. Olivine is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth that naturally sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere as it reacts with it to form carbonate minerals.
The more surface area is exposed to air, the faster carbon dioxide can be absorbed, therefore the olivine is crushed into small bits. It has been calculated that one pound of olivine can absorb as much as one pound of carbon dioxide from the air.
Vesta sees the potential to expand such projects internationally at a large-scale to enhance carbon dioxide removal. According to Vesta, there are enough olivine reserves globally and applicable coastlines to bring coastal carbon capture to gigaton scale.
Vesta also conducts extensive ecosystem monitoring before and after olivine placement that includes ecological and ecotoxicological assessments of local fauna, assessing the amount of CO2 removed via looking into changes in carbonate chemistry, alkalinity and other biogeochemical and physical parameters.
Coastal carbon capture is a way to harness the power of minerals and the ocean to accelerate the Earth’s natural long-term carbon dioxide removal process while also enhancing coastal resilience. Vesta is an organization determined to implement safe and effective olivine deployment for tackling excess emissions in the air.