Sustainability – the biogenic birth of oolitic aragonite sand
The biogenic nature of this unique mineral not only improves the environment through its ability to naturally renew, but it also sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere, while greatly minimizing the overall carbon footprint of finished products.
The formation of oolitic aragonite (biogenic CaCO3) occurs as a phenomenon described as a “Whitings” event. The “Whitings” are an accumulation of precipitated calcium carbonate induced by photosynthesis, occurring in blooms of phytoplankton, which seasonally enter the warm shallow waters of the Bahamas. Within our 500 sq. mi. harvesting areas, roughly 2 million tons of oolitic aragonite is generated each year.
Oolitic Aragonite is generated through the mineralization of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) within natural occurring Blooms of phytoplankton, further picoplankton: specifically Cyanobacteria and unicellular blue-green algae.
Photosynthesis drives the engine of both forms of carbon sequestration by cyanobacteria:
- Reducing CO2 to organic compounds at the same time producing Oxygen (O2) through the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle.
- Mineralizing CO2 to recalcitrant carbonates; Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3).
Cyanobacteria has a Carbon Dioxide Concentrating Mechanism (CCM), a biochemical system that allows the cells to raise the concentration of CO2 at the site of the carboxylating enzyme rubulose (RUBISCO) up to 1,000 times surrounding medium. Cyanobacteria excretes organic polymeric substances to form extracellular formations. These Exopolymeric substances (EPS) serve as a nucleation surface for mineralization.