Today: Tuesday, 26 January 2021 year

Technology: Coral restoration with 3D-printed ‘reef tiles’

Technology: Coral restoration with 3D-printed ‘reef tiles’

The team of architects and marine scientists from the University of Hong Kong have presented “reef tiles”, which are able to restore the coral in the sea. The natural tiles can either be seeded with coral fragments or wait for coral polyps to naturally colonise, as they are carried past on ocean currents.

Tiles are absolutely natural, they provide a structurally complex foundation for coral attachment and prevent sedimentation, Springwise reports. Over the decades, the coral reefs bleaching remains the top problem for marine ecology. Now, coral are dying off at an alarming rate across the globe.

In their efforts to restore the coral reefs, the scientists offer to use the terracotta clay used to make the tiles will ensure that no adverse side effects are caused.

The idea as simple as genial. With a diameter of 60 cm, the tiles were developed through robotic 3D-printing out of conventional terracotta clay. They were then kiln-fired at a record-high temperature (1,125 C).

The design of tiles was inspired by typical coral patterns, it is unique. The most important thing is terracotta makes them much more eco-friendly than if they were made from concrete or steel. The production of the latter two materials isn’t healthy for ecology.

In a pilot project, 128 reef tiles were seeded with three types of native coral and deposited in Hong Kong’s Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. The tiles will be monitored over the next year and a half, to see if they can help to restore the corals.