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3D-Printed Reefs Deployed in Atlantic

Thursday, June 25, 2020

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Earlier this month, marine scientists deployed 3D-printed artificial reefs throughout the Atlantic coasts of England, France and Spain.

The 3D Printing Artificial Reefs in the Atlantic (3DPARE) project is being led by the University of Cantabria Department of Civil Engineering (Santander, Spain), but involves a consortium of others, including the Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieurs des Travaux de la Construction de Caen (Épron, France), the Instituto Português do Mar (Lisbon, Portugal), University of Porto (Porto, Portugal) and Bournemouth University (Poole, England).

According to reports, the 3DPARE project launched after marine scientists from the consortium were awarded a four-year (2017-21) EU Interreg project to design the artificial reefs. Through the award, the project received 1.9 million euros ($2.1 million) to promote actions of innovation and competitivity, biodiversity, natural and cultural goods and the cooperation among the 37 regions of the Atlantic arc.

One year into the project, the team studied natural and artificial habitats in Poole Bay, United Kingdom. The research was captured via baited underwater video and through various diving surveys.

In addition to studying the areas where the reefs would be deployed, researchers also studied potential materials for their resistance and facility to print from 150 samples. Out of the samples, the team identified the six best—based on cost, medium-term resistance, environmental impact and adhered biomass—which were then tested in Puerto Chico during an immersion period.

The materials include cement, geopolymers or aggregates coming from waste with the aim to develop more sustainable mortars.

3D Printing Media Network reports that the production of the reefs themselves, however, was a great challenge. Measuring roughly one meter and weighing close to one ton, the 36 artificial reefs each contain holes, tunnels and overhang features, suitable for marine life habitats. The team also crafted solid concrete cubes—half smooth and half with a 3D printed finish—as a control object, which were also placed at each site.

Throughout the end of May, the artificial reefs were deployed using eight different reef designs, two types of materials and four different shapes (cubic or random, simulating a natural rock and with big or small external bumps).

In following biological principals with regard to cave and entry sizes to the reefs, the team hopes that species of fish, algae adherence, bioreceptivity, among other types of marine life, can be regenerated. Over the next few years, the artificial reefs will be studied and monitored for its results.

Infrastructure Recycled for Reefs

While technologies are exploring the use of artificial reef development, other cities haves been upcycling its demolished infrastructure for artificial reef programs as well. Last year, remains of the old Tappan Zee Bridge were used to supplement half a dozen reefs off Long Island, New York.

According to The New York Times, the function behind the endeavor was twofold: Disposing of the old bridge parts this way was both affordable and practical, while also providing new habitats for marine life. Currently, New York state maintains 12 artificial reefs: two in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay and eight in the Atlantic Ocean. Six of these were slated to receive pieces of the old bridge.

According to state officials, all materials were cleaned thoroughly before being submerged. The cost of transporting the materials amounted to $5 million, with 29 barges of material total being hauled away. The cost was covered by the New York State Power Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors.

At the end of August, concrete and steel from demolition of the span were sunk 2.4 miles south of the Moriches Inlet to create an artificial reef. All told, 11,000 tons of recycled steel and concrete were used to supplement the state’s artificial reef program.

In September, crews dismantling the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, located in the Oregon Inlet of North Carolina, also salvaged 70,000 tons of debris for four different existing artificial reefs in the area.

Earlier this year, PaintSquare Daily News reported that remains from the demolition of the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge would also be recycled to create an artificial fish reef. Additionally, the Maryland Transportation Authority and the project’s joint venture were partnering with the Potomac River Fisheries Commission and Maryland Department of Natural Resources to fund oyster seeding in the lower Potomac River basin.


Tagged categories: 3D printing; 3D Printing; Colleges and Universities; Environmental Controls; EU; Europe; Marine; Research; Research and development

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