Article

3D printed coral structures to save marine ecosystems

  • Nimish Sany
  • 12 July , 2016

Coral reefs are one of the worst hit ecosystems that suffer from climate change. These diverse yet fragile ecosystems are not only a feast to our eyes but also part of a marine food chain and ecosystem, comprising of fishes and other aquatic species, which would be disrupted when the reefs are put to danger.  

3D printed coral structure undersea at Bahrain

Image:3ders

Reef Design Lab (RDL), a Melbourne based non-profit organization with prior excellence in building sustainable underwater solutions to battle climate change has came up with an innovative idea by partnering with leading Australian architect James Gardiner. The project team placed 3D printed structures imitating coral reef and the result is inspiring. The project has been implemented in Bahrain and Monaco where it has proven to be successful.

Coral reef gets their color from various algae which have found habitats in them. The increase in sea temperature leads to the extermination of these algae. The process called bleaching renders the coral structures colorless and inhabitable for the marine species such as polyps, etc. The 3D printed coral structures which appear colorful, attract the aquatic species like genuine coral reefs do and act as a habitat and source of food for lower marine species. 3D printing the structures has allowed the team to create complicate structures with tunnels which according to RDL has contributed towards ‘greater biodiversity and biomass’.

The sandstone material used to print out the coral reef structures has very low carbon footprint and 3D printing has allowed eco-friendly materials to be used with greater efficiency. RDL states in its website,” We believe this technology can play an important role in climate change adaption of low lying islands by cost effectively rebuilding their barrier reefs and thus reducing coastal erosion.”

 

Author

Nimish Sany: I bleed my thoughts on paper. And if I cant find a paper, blogs serve the purpose just fine.

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