Jul 22, 2019 | Updated: 09:15 AM EDT

Startup Upgrades Concrete into an Ocean-Friendly Building Material

Jul 11, 2019 11:30 AM EDT

ECOncrete - This is how we save the ocean! Nas daily video
(Photo : ECOncrete Concrete Ecological Solutions)
ECOncrete (Screenshot taken from video "ECOncrete - This is how we save the ocean! Nas daily video")

Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, the co-founder of ECOncrete, spends her work hours underwater with a clipboard, a pencil, and special paper. ECOncrete, a company based in Israel, is a startup that has come up with a solution to the problem that coastline structures have imposed on marine life.

Nearly half of the world's population occupies the coastlines. Concrete, being the world's most common building material, also dominates most of the coastline buildings and structures across the globe. Apart from buildings, structures made out of concrete along the coastline include bridges and seawalls.

However, even if the concrete is easy to use and is among the most consumed building materials in the world, one drawback of using concrete is the damage that it deals on the marine life that lives around it. Making things worse, the negative effects brought about by using concrete materials along the coastlines could last for thousands of years.

These issues have been apparent to Finkel as the said topic became the interest of her studies while working on her Ph.D. in marine biology at Tel Aviv University. During this time, Finkel worked with Ido Sella in coming up with an alternative material for concrete. Further study, the duo modified the mixture of concrete by about 10%. This change has made a big difference in the outcome.

Their small tweak has made the new mixture of concrete into a building material that is friendly to the ocean Ecosystem. The said material can provide a hospitable habitat in the ocean. A unit is designed to have small holes in it which can function as habitat for fish. It is also possible for seaweed to grow on top of the material. In their tests, they have found out that corals and oysters appear around the ocean-friendly building material. In short, marine life thrives around and on the building material itself. According to the scientists, all this interaction with marine life not only brings the concrete to life but it actually makes the structure even stronger.

For their study, while they were still students, the duo conducted a small test to see if their idea is effective. The team placed a few units on an existing structure in the Red Sea in Eilat. According to their reports, their small addition to the existing structure has ignited a lot of biological activity. While many environmental groups are working on artificial reefs, the duo made use of different infrastructure that was already built for other purposes. Finkel regards their method as a scaffold for ecological enhancement.

The duo pointed out that their mixture is 5% stronger than normal concrete and does not cost more. Scientists added that structures made out of their mixture have 80% less carbon footprint.

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