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Startup wants to dump planet-saving substance on beaches and in ocean to help clear the air — could it work?

So far, the company has discovered "no adverse ecological effect whatsoever" at a test beach in New York's Hamptons.

So far, the company has discovered “no adverse ecological effect whatsoever” at a test beach in New York’s Hamptons.

Photo Credit: iStock

Ocean waters are already an abundant resource in the battle for clean air, and San Francisco-based startup Vesta hopes to utilize another substance on our beaches and in the ocean to remove 1 billion tons of carbon pollution annually.  

Bloomberg reported that the potentially planet-saving substance is olivine, a mineral that removes carbon dioxide (CO2) as part of the natural process that occurs when it dissolves in seawater. 

According to IEAGHG, which funds the research and development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, CCS has been around since the 1920s, yet there were only five major CCS projects globally about a decade ago. 

Since then, the potential for the technology has gained ground, with a number of new initiatives in development. Scientists are reportedly cautious, however, about investing too much hope in CCS. 

Another potential roadblock to the plan? Cost

The National Academy of Sciences projects it will take between $100 to $150 to remove just a single ton of CO2, per Bloomberg. Yet Vesta reportedly believes it could remove a ton of CO2 for only $21.

If that projection is accurate, the startup's technology could go a long way in helping our planet. 

Our oceans absorb about 31% of harmful carbon pollution. Unfortunately, that can also disrupt the natural balance of the environment and raise the acidity of the ocean, which can harm shellfish, corals, and other marine life, as well as people who rely on fisheries. 

Research is ongoing to determine whether dumping large amounts of olivine in the environment would have any negative impacts, but so far, Vesta has discovered "no adverse ecological effect whatsoever" at a test beach in New York's Hamptons, as Tom Green, Vesta's CEO, told Bloomberg. 

In order to further expand the application of its carbon-capture technology, the startup is reportedly eyeing the Hajar Mountains, which frame the coast of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. 

The range has one of the largest deposits of olivine globally, Bloomberg reports, and Vesta believes the warm waters of the region could increase the efficiency of its technology. 

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