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Join host Paul Shapiro as he talks with some of the leading start-up entrepreneurs and titans of industry alike using their businesses to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Sep 1, 2022

Sure, we need to stop emitting greenhouse gases. But even if we stopped all emissions today, there are so many that we’ve already put into the atmosphere that we need to remove them. Some folks are trying to build massive machines to suck C02 from the air, but Kelly Erhart has a different idea: just accelerate the earth’s natural geochemical processes to remove that same C02 and safely deposit it in solid form at the bottom of our oceans.

How to do it: Turns that when water touches this volcanic rock called olivine, the rock naturally removes C02 from the air. This process takes eons normally, but if you grind the olivine rock into a fine sand and spread it out over beaches, you can greatly accelerate the carbon-capturing capacity of the rock, while also protecting coastal communities. 

Sounds like a noble idea, and when you combine it with the capacity to sell carbon credits, it sounds like a profitable idea, too. That’s why Kelly Erhart founded Vesta in 2019. Her company’s raised $6 million in equity so far (along with an additional $6 million in philanthropic dollars) and is now poised to raise a much larger Series A round so they can get into the olivine sand spreading business. 

They’re already conducting pilot programs in the Caribbean and say they’ll soon be ready for much bigger footprint—or sandprint—projects that will make a tangible dent in the climate crisis.

Discussed in this episode

  • Our past episodes with Phoenix Tailings (valorizing mining waste). Funga (soil carbon capture), Global Thermostat (direct air carbon capture), and Coral Vita (regrowing coral reefs).
  • TED talk by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson: “How to find joy in climate action”
  • CarbonPlan: Data and science for climate action

More about Kelly Erhart

Kelly Erhart is Co-founder and President of Vesta. A believer in humanity's ability to become a "net-positive" to nature, Kelly has spent her career commercializing sustainable technologies and climate solutions through creative non-profit, for-profit, and hybrid organizations. Vesta is developing an ocean-based climate solution called Coastal Carbon Capture. Coastal Carbon Capture has the potential to be a billion-ton-per year NET solution with co-benefits such as lowering ocean acidity and helping to protect vulnerable coastal communities from sea level rise and erosion.