Has This Brilliant Startup Created The Ultimate Carbon Capture Technology?
Yes and no.
6 min read
3 days ago
Carbon capture promises to do the impossible and repent humanity’s climate sins. By absorbing our emissions out of the atmosphere and safely burying them back underground, this technology will not only be the find push we need to reach net-zero, but possibly even reverse the atmospheric damage we have already done. But the current reality of carbon capture is far from this holy grail of climate technology. Thanks to staggering costs and slow expansion, current carbon capture is barely making an impact. But, A new startup has a solution that promises to solve these problems and beckon in a new age of climate action. However, is this too good to be true?
This startup is San Francisco-based Vesta, and they want to use the mineral olivine to offset atmospheric carbon dioxide. The idea is that they would dump ground-up olivine on beaches and into seawater to speed up the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide. You see, the ocean already absorbs around a third of our emissions. When carbon dioxide dissolves into water, it turns into carbonic acid; as such, our emissions are making the ocean more acidic. Olivine reacts incredibly quickly with carbonic acid, breaking down and turning into dissolved carbonates. These carbonates settle on the ocean floor and can stay there for millions of years thanks to their chemical stability. What’s more, these carbonates are non-toxic and can even be used by animals to make shells, so they shouldn’t impact marine ecology. So, by pumping the ocean full of olivine, we can safely speed up the ocean’s natural ability to absorb carbon emissions and reliably store the carbon away as sediment and dissolved carbonates.
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This process is commonly known as enhanced rock weathering, as most natural rock weathering has the same carbon-sink ability, just at a much slower rate.
Vesta has already tested this idea in New York’s Hamptons, spreading ground olivine on the coast and mixing it with sand. This gave them the data they needed to know how effectively coastal olivine dissolves away and how it affects marine life. The tests were successful, and now they are setting…