Bringing Concrete to Life
Ecological enhancement of concrete-based coastal defense structures through surface texture and structural complexity
With anticipated growth in human density on the coastlines, alongside growing threats from sea-level rise and increased storminess, accelerated coastal development causing changes to natural coastlines and increased pressure on coastal ecosystems are inevitable. ~40% of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast (UN). Thus, natural coastlines undergo severe changes over time and in many cases are completely overtaken by ports, coastal defense measures, power plants, industrial facilities, and residential properties. As most marine flora and fauna reside in coastal areas, anthropogenic changes to coastlines are one of the key reasons for loss of coastal habitats, and for significant reduction of ecosystem services provided by marine environments.
These coastal and marine infrastructures, are predominantly comprised of precast concrete units that are designed and built with little or no consideration to the marine life developing on them. Despite the high variability in their design, these precast units present steep slopes with smooth surfaces, low structural complexity and high homogeneity, all of which are rarely found in natural habitats. As a result, their ability to provide ecosystem services similar to those offered by natural habitats is severely compromised and the organism assemblage developing is generally dominated by non-native opportunistic species.
The manufacturing process of any single precast concrete unit, regardless of its’ geometric design, is roughly the same and involves the utilization of robust metallic mold systems that can withstand the pressure of the concrete from inside and allow easy extraction of the unit during de-molding. The molds are required to be smooth, tapered and not to contain any indents that will create undercuts in the de-molding process. These characteristics are the exact opposite of those found in natural coastal zones e.g. coastal rock formations.
By utilizing durable material with elastic and magnetic properties, liners with complex surface textures can be formed. These liners can fit into existing mold systems adding complexity to their inner surface without changing the mold itself. In the de-molding process, first the steel mold is removed and detached from the liner and only then is the liner separated from the concrete unit. Using these molds, we can take essentially any precast unit and modify its’ surface texture in a way that will encourage the settlement of marine organisms enhancing the ecosystem, while maintaining the physical and structural performance of the single unit and the entire structure alike.
As new materials are becoming more accessible and affordable as well as new developments and technology of magnetic materials, the concept of magnetic liners has become viable. Using synthetic resins and plural component elastomers combined with printed and correlated magnet technologies, our concept is now closer than ever.
As 70% of marine and coastal infrastructure world-wide is concrete based, our solution will lead to the ecological enhancement of a vast area of the world’s coast lines. Our ECO - Coastal Liners are aimed at transforming “gray” concrete units into high-performance, resilient, blue-green infrastructure, which foster highly productive thriving ecosystems, in a cost-effective, low carbon solution.
Watch our elevator pitch:
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
What makes our solution innovative:
ECO-Coastal Liners are an innovative solution applied to the long-established, traditional concrete casting industry. In terms of production feasibility, the mold systems commonly used in both pre-cast and on-site casting, have smooth inner surfaces to ease the extraction procedure. That is why ECO-Coastal Liners will utilize ground breaking materials, both flexible for easy release and durable to withstand the forces, temperatures and chemical agents associated with concrete casting. ECO-Coastal Liners will attach to any mold using ultra-strong magnets enduring all forces associated with casting, and detaching from the mold during extraction, allowing the liner to be peeled from the concrete.
How technology is integral to our solution:
The technological leap ECO-Coastal Liners hold, is the utilization of new, cutting edge composite materials into an old-fashioned industry. A science-based approach will be used to develop a durable-elastic liner that is capable of attaching to and detaching from various types of molds easily, using ultra-strong magnets. ECO-Coastal Liners will tackle the issue of adding surface complexity to coastal infrastructure, enhancing its ecological performance, while maintaining all structural properties of the structure.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
Our main goals are to bring ECO-Coastal Liners to mass production and engage this new technology into large scale coastal infrastructure projects. As we’ve successfully shown on various pilot projects, the transformation of a concrete unit from smooth-faced to complex-faced increases the ecosystem services of the coastal infrastructure. Therefore, making ECO-Coastal Liners accessible to manufacturers fast, will benefit the coastal environment surrounding coastal infrastructures.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
Over the next five years we envision our ECO-Coastal Liners being used in numerous projects worldwide. With the ability to custom textures to fit project requirements, both in aesthetic and biological terms, the product is essential for all coastal and marine projects. We aim to partner with manufacturers worldwide providing design services adapting the liner to specific projects. As more artificial coasts will be modified to eco-friendly infrastructure, the natural aquatic habitats will thrive, improving water quality and biodiversity. This environmental uplift benefit local communities as healthier waters improve fishing, tourism and life quality.
Our promotional video:
Where we plan to expand in the next 12 months:
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
As ECO-Coastal Liners uplift the functionality of public large-scale infrastructure, the solution serves the entire community in the region. As more coastal infrastructure will include design specific surface complexity, so will the impact be of greater magnitude. Using our ECO-Coastal Liners results in greater biodiversity of marine flora and fauna, increase in native species improved water quality as more filter feeders will thrive in these areas, and maintenance reduction as biogenic buildup strengthens the infrastructure itself.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
Every coastal and marine infrastructure using our ECO-Coastal Liner will affect the whole community surrounding it. As we predict that these liners will spread out to improve coasts worldwide, the population effected by this solution is of colossal extent. As time progresses, we believe that most of the world population will benefit from our solution.
How our solution team is organized:For-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:8
How many years we have been working on our solution:1-2 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Our multidisciplinary team is comprised of biologists, environmentalists, designers, and engineers. Learning from each other’s fields of expertise, we are all keen on finding feasible solutions that reduce the negative effects of coastal infrastructure on the environment. From the construction aspect, the project will be led by Adi Neuman, an industrial designer with over 7 years of experience managing large scale construction projects in the public domain. He will be supervised by Dr. Ido Sella and Dr. Shimrit Finkel world known for their work research regarding the ecological impacts of coastal infrastructure.
Our revenue model:
We are operating for profit, with revenues from sales and product services.
ECO-Coastal Liner addresses a multi-billion potential market driven by the increasing need for urban and coastal construction including shoreline reinforcement. The market for concrete products in urban and coastal areas is fueled by processes related to increase in human population in coastal zones and increase in construction/expansion of coastal defense measures in light of global trends of sea level rise and intensified storminess. At present ECOncrete® is the only commercial company that provides the industry with tested and field-proven ecological concrete construction solutions with proven structural abilities and scientifically published biological data. The production capacity of the developed products will be increased as required via licensees or subcontractors working under ECOncrete®.
Why we are applying to Solve:
We believe that Solve is the perfect platform in which to develop our ECO-Coastal Liner system. In order to progress with our concept, SOLVE will help us partner with professionals, both for development and manufacturing processes.
Being part of solve, will also assist our marketing objectives, connecting us to potential clients.
The key barriers for our solution:
Learning from our latest prototype, a major barrier is the ratio between durability and flexibility of the liner. We need our ECO-Coastal Liner to be highly durable to withstand tensile forces, contact with chemical agents and high temperatures, while remaining flexible to allow easy extraction from the concrete unit.
In addition, the ability to maintain cost efficiency in production and is a key element to market penetration.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers: