The original Project Vesta was founded by social entrepreneurs with a deep passion for helping to accelerate solutions to climate change. The founding team saw two things. First, that there was a meaningful body of research into coastal enhanced weathering with olivine as a promising potential way to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere; and second, that there was very limited progress towards testing out this idea with field trials or beginning to establish a sustainable model for scaling should these trials succeed. They set out to change that, and started planning a field trial and lab studies to begin to answer the questions of whether it is safe, effective, and economical.
One measure of the strength and resilience of an organization is its ability to reinvent itself and transcend the individuals who founded it. While the majority of the original founding team is no longer actively involved, the soul of the organization remains rooted in the same desire to make a difference. While the soul hasn’t changed, the brains have.
We now have 13 PhDs on our full-time staff and well over double that many advising us, collaborating with us, and participating in our research program. We have developed a comprehensive and realistic scientific roadmap which integrates lab experiments, microcosms, mesocosms, modeling, natural analog studies, and field trial studies. Our roadmap is now designed to enable a comprehensive assessment of coastal enhanced weathering with olivine. Careful research including assessing any ecological effects has always been part of our DNA: that is not new. What is new is a far more in-depth understanding of what it will take to assess coastal enhanced weathering for safety, efficacy, and scalability.
Our immediate goal is to perform and publish the necessary research to understand the risks and benefits of coastal enhanced weathering with olivine. We call the approach Coastal Carbon Capture, which integrates geochemistry, ecology, geomorphology, community engagement, and coastal engineering to add the natural carbon removal capacity of olivine sand to shoreline protection projects. We are working closely with the coastal nourishment industry on several pilots in the US, including a project, launched today, in Southampton, NY. If the results show promise, we hope to begin to help turn the coastal protection industry carbon-negative.
We want to address directly that our founding team had an insightful vision but only a partial picture of how to execute on that. This is understandable: nobody did. Thanks to the deep expertise and hard work of the scientists and engineers we have brought on over the last 18 months, we now know much more. Today we are essentially performing the work of a small oceanographic institute in concert with academic collaborators and industry partners.
There is content out in the public domain from our early days which does not match our current understanding of this field of research. We encourage any observers – skeptics and cheerleaders alike – to look at our current website to understand what we are doing and how we’re approaching it, and to reach out to us directly if you would like to learn more about our approach. Our current team, who are listed on our website, is happy to engage with scientists and the general public to answer questions.
We’re deeply grateful to those who envisioned a new set of possibilities. To recognize the progress we have made and to signal the transition to a more comprehensive approach we have changed our name from ‘Project Vesta’ to ‘Vesta’.
Vesta is conducting several studies into the viability of Coastal Carbon Capture, including various lab and mesocosm experiments and several planned field pilots on the Eastern seaboard of the US and in the Dominican Republic.
With sea level rise accelerating and storms getting stronger each year, coastal communities are in greater and greater need of shoreline protection. Vesta is seeking to empower coastal communities to not only protect their shorelines but also to add carbon-removing (olivine) sand to shoreline protection projects. This can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, addressing the root cause of the problem as well as its symptoms. We hope that Coastal Carbon Capture can expand beyond shoreline protection in the future to drive even more climate impact.