Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Nolan Krattinger on Unsplash

A modular system of 3D-printed bricks for restoring reefs

Springwise ChangeNOW

The clay reefs are custom built to suit local habitats and biodiversity needs

Spotted: Less than 45 per cent of original global reefs remain, and scientists predict that by 2070, they could disappear altogether. Reefs are declining at twice the pace of rainforests and stopping the damage requires swift, focused actions at sites around the world. One company, Swiss-based Rrreefs, creates bespoke coral reef replacements that provide multiple environmental benefits. The company’s goal is to revive one per cent of coastal coral reefs by 2033. 

Video source Rrreefs

Using pure clay, the company 3D prints reef bricks that are customised to best suit the nearest shoreline and local environment. By understanding water flows and marine topography, the company builds structures that provide microenvironments for thousands of animals and plants to thrive. Protecting shores from erosion improves the growing environments for underwater forests of mangroves and seagrass, both of which are crucial to the capture of carbon dioxide. And a single cubic metre of the reef blocks provides a new home to more than 20,000 tiny animals, 20 corals, 60 fish, and more.  

The surface of the bricks is designed specifically to support a variety of coral larvae contributing to the genetic diversity of the new reef. The natural clay material contains no artificial ingredients or chemicals, making it a healthy choice that contributes no new pollution to the world’s oceans.  

Using 3D printing allows for modular production and complete customisation of height, width, and length of the overall reef structure. The process also allows for local manufacturing, which further reduces the carbon footprint of each reef.  

The innovations seeking to help stop the irreversible destruction of the world’s coral reefs are many and varied. Recent ones spotted by Springwise include a global cat food brand supporting new reefs and a company making leather out of an invasive fish that threatens reef health.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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