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ECOncrete study finds greater ecological value for ecological concrete mattresses in comparison to standard designs

Published by , Deputy Editor
World Cement,

A peer-reviewed study of a team led by marine biologist Dr. Ido Sella and coastal engineer Dr. Andrew Rella of international eco-engineering company, ECOncrete Tech Ltd., has found that the firm’s ecologically engineered articulated concrete block mattresses significantly elevate the ecological value of concrete-based coastal and marine infrastructure due to modifications of the concrete composition, surface texture and macro-design.

The study has important implications for promoting a more sustainable and adaptive approach to coastal and marine development in an era of climate resilience building.

In the paper, the team present a structural-economical-biological analysis of ecologically engineered Articulated Concrete Block Mattresses (ACBM) to examine the compliance of new environmentally sensitive technologies with structural requirements and fiscal restraints, whilst providing ecosystem and habitat value. The innovative solution was developed as a joint research and development process between ECOncrete and Besser Company, a manufacturer of production systems and equipment for the concrete industry. The research was funded in part by the Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation, an organisation that provides capital for joint industrial research and development between American and Israeli companies. To evaluate the structural and biological performance of the ACBMs, a pilot project was deployed in April 2017 at Port Everglades, Florida, USA in conjunction with NOVA University and evaluated against controls of adjacent artificial structures and smooth-surface concrete blocks and monitored over a period of two years. A subsequent multi-year pilot project was later deployed in Neptune, New Jersey, USA in 2018 to offer validation in varying environmental conditions and whose results will be presented separately.

The ecological ACBMs were enhanced through the environmentally sensitive concrete solutions previously developed and validated by ECOncrete, including bio-enhancing concrete additives and science-based designs scientifically proven to enhance the biological and ecological value of urban, coastal, and marine infrastructure.

Following two years of monitoring and analysis of the ECO blocks to the standard control blocks, the ACBMs were shown to have a wide range of environmental benefits – significantly increasing optimism amongst industry leaders looking to fight rising climate change concerns.

The surface roughness and complex surface features of the ECO blocks meant that they recruited communities significantly different from those recruited on the control blocks, presenting higher values of species richness and diversity. Furthermore, there was a higher presence of calcifying organisms compared to the control blocks, which grew at a faster rate. In addition to habitat value, the chemical process of biocalcification (biogenic build-up) of calcitic skeletons utilises the CO2 molecules from the seawater to generate CaCO3 skeletons, essentially removing atmospheric CO2.

Ido Sella, co-author and co-founder & CEO of ECOncrete, said, “We are pleased that after years of deep research and analysis, we have found that ecological engineering principles can be applied to active urban/working waterfronts, without compromising the day-to-day functions and services provided by the structure. We hope that as mainstream environmental awareness grows, alongside more scientific publications and practical guidelines for the ecological design of coastal infrastructure, there will be the wider implementation of environmentally sensitive technologies moving forward.”

Andrew Rella, co-author and Technical Director of Business Development, ECOncrete, added: “This piece of work represents the culmination of many years of research and we are delighted to have had our analysis published. The study’s results have important implications, highlighting that infrastructure can be capable of addressing both ecological and structural functioning, and which can be implemented in expanding urban, industrial, hardened waterfronts.”

As ECOncrete continues its mission to build stronger and greener marine infrastructure, and considering the vigorous discussions on climate change at this year’s COP26, it is hoped that policymakers will increasingly consider such solutions for coastal climate-resilience problems faced today.

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