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3D printed seawall is inspired by mangrove trees

Car company Volvo partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create a 3D printed seawall, inspired by mangrove trees.

More than half of Sydney’s shoreline is artificial, and rich, vibrant habitats have been replaced with seawalls and degraded by plastic pollution.

Called the Living Seawall, the reef consists of 50 tiles that mimic the structure of mangrove trees, native to Australia. Using 3D printing, moulds are made, in which concrete is poured. The concrete is made with fibres from 100 per cent recycled plastic.

The Living Seawall is designed to add complexity to existing seawalls structures, its tiny nooks and crannies providing habitat for marine life. This aids biodiversity and attracts filter-feeding organisms that absorb and filter out pollutants, like particulate matter and heavy metals. The more organisms, the cleaner the water.

Researchers will monitor the Living Seawall for the next 20 years as it improves biodiversity and water quality.

Els Zijlstra

Photos: Volvo

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