Making a cubic yard of concrete (about 3900 lbs.) releases around 400 lbs. of CO2. But what if there is a natural substitute for it? Yes, BioCement can be an alternative to regular cement that is inspired from oyster reefs. Prepared through biomimicry, Reef Rocket is lightweight, compact and easy-to-assemble. It is as sturdy as its traditional counterpart.
Meet Reef Rocket, the extraordinary bio-cement structure created by pioneering industrial designer Mary Lempres. Inspired by the remarkable strength and adaptability of oyster reefs, this invention is set to revolutionize coastal flood control. Not just this because it is aimed at preserving marine ecosystems too. Harnessing the power of biomimicry, Reef Rocket creatively replicates the essential functions of its natural counterparts. Thus, it effectively filters seawater and promotes biodiversity.
Reef Rocket has been carefully designed with a focus on being compact, light, and easy to assemble. This design strategy aims to ensure that this solution can be accessible to a wide range of people. Lempres imagines a future where strong and durable materials can be cultivated just like crops. She wants to help transform waste and combat environmental pollution.
The structure consists of two bio-cement modules with ridged surfaces. These modules can be stacked together to create a rocket-shaped form when assembled underwater. Lempres partnered with bio-geotechnical expert Ahmed Miftah to create a one-of-a-kind technique for cultivating plant-based cement. Her main inspiration was irrigation systems employed in plant cultivation.
Lempres elaborated on how, after being saturated for three to nine days, the substrate undergoes a remarkable transformation into natural concrete.
- Bio-cement modules are made by pouring a safe solution. The solution contains a natural extract from plants grown globally, onto crushed aggregate. This aggregate is obtained from New York City. It comprises crushed glass and oyster shells collected from local restaurants and the New York Harbour.
- This remarkable change is made possible by the extracted biocatalyst. It induces the creation of mineral bridges between the glass and the shell waste.
- The outcome is a product that is water-resistant and long-lasting like standard concrete. It also has remarkable eco-friendliness and sustainability.
The Innovative Molds
Lempres and her team diligently worked through numerous prototypes until they discovered the optimal solution. Finally, they found the prefabricated molds for the modules. These innovative molds enable the bio-cement to be securely packed and solidified without the reliance on heat or chemicals. As a result, they have not only established an easily accessible process but also an efficient assembly method.
What is Biomimicry?
It involves finding solutions to design challenges by studying nature. In this case, Lempres created modules inspired by coastal oyster reefs. These modules can filter algae from seawater and attract aquatic organisms. It also reduces wave energy, helps in preventing coastal erosion and protects against storms.
How is Reef Rocket Different?
What distinguishes Reef Rocket is mentioned below:
- It has a remarkable capability to thrive in any environment without relying on heat or burning fossil fuels.
- Lempres emphasized its cost-effectiveness and scalability as a viable and sustainable alternative to traditional cement.
- The bio-concrete shares chemical similarities with the substance used by oysters to develop their reefs.
- The crucial distinction between traditional and bio-cement lies in their growth speed. While natural oyster reefs take millennia to form, Reef Rocket achieves the same result in just a matter of days.
This project shows how biomimicry and sustainable design can address challenges caused by climate change and coastal resilience. BioCement can be an alternative to regular cement as Reef Rocket signifies a significant stride towards harmony. This can be achieved by bringing together human infrastructure along with resilient and regenerative abilities of the natural world.
About the Founder
Mary is an industrial designer from Norway and America. She got her MID degree from Pratt Institute while she was taking part in the CERN IdeaSquare Challenge-Based Innovation program. She creates designs using new technologies and biological processes. Her goal is to make design accessible to everyone and reduce the environmental impact of consumer products. She is currently employed at Circ working, leading sustainable research and development at the intersection of Materials Science, Circular Economy, and Design.
Source: REEF ROCKET