Biogenic Coastal Solutions, Let The Oysters Do The Work
ORA Technologies is developing tools that empower coastal communities to literally grow coastal protection infrastructure.
ORA Technologies’ mission is to develop and commercialize transformative technologies that allow coastal communities to flourish for generations to come. Put another way, our mission is to radically change the economics of coastal infrastructure. We work among a nexus of sustainable jobs, food security, community resilience, and an abundant environment.
We envision a future where a world of 11 billion people having pushed the limits of extractive/industrial economics are transitioning to an economy of responsible stewardship and regeneration.
ORA’s first stride towards this vision consists in developing a network of regenerative eco-farms in estuaries throughout the U.S. and beyond, where we will literally grow natural infrastructure.
The first output of these eco-farms will be the Oyster Scaffold technology, which is designed to address the “living shoreline” category of natural infrastructure. The Oyster Scaffold is a patented technique developed by ORA Technologies, LLC to create living building blocks for coastal restoration. By combining oyster culture and coastal engineering, we can create living shorelines with a fraction of the raw material, minimize performance risk and maximize ecosystem services. The basic format is that lightweight “scaffolds” are “planted” in prime oyster growing waters. Two or three years of oyster recruitment adds sufficient mass and geometry to each scaffold for use in coastal engineering and habitat restoration projects such as living shorelines. The mature scaffolds are then relocated into a final project. The total cost of this process, including overhead, is substantially less than the cost of current means of shoreline protection.
Subsequent generations of Oyster Scaffolds consist of three dimensional concrete scaffolds optimized to minimize weight and maximize oyster growing surface area. In order to fabricate these unique shapes, ORA is prototyping a novel 3D printer for rapidly fabricating concrete objects. (Notice of award received, no patent number as of the date of this writing). By optimizing living shoreline structures, we can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in concrete production cost and over a hundred tons of CO2 emissions per mile of shoreline. Also, by using a 3D printer, we can create features tailored to specific species or applications.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Metairie, LA, USA
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
What makes our solution innovative:
Our innovation is fundamentally a new process. We are essentially using marine aquaculture to achieve coastal engineering and ecological objectives in a way that is community driven.
How technology is integral to our solution:
Sensorization, digitization and analytics will give us an unprecedented knowledge of the ecosystem services that oyster reefs provide. This knowledge will empower a continuous improvement feedback loop that allows us to better meet the needs of the communities where we work.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
In the next 12 months, we will:
- Collect oyster recruitment data for bio-enhanced material prototypes.
- Pilot a low cost shoreline stabilizing oyster farm system
- Develop a conceptual model of a public-private-partnership, and work with communities to fund feasibility studies.
- Develop digital media and launch social media effort.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
In five years, haven taken an enabling role in these community-driven public private partnerships, ORA will be participating in the development of 5+ local partnerships, the first two of which are generating market oysters and living building blocks. We will have grown millions of oysters, extracted thousands of lbs of nutrients from the water, engaged dozens of school and community groups.
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
As an engineering tool, our biogenic coastal solutions provide maximum cost savings and benefits when run as a long term program rather than one shot project. Therefore, we are focusing our efforts on creating locally driven partnerships that substantially benefit diverse participants. These partnerships are necessarily limited in scope to a bay or estuary and so would be repeated in every coastal city.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
Our biogenic coastal solutions are in the prototyping and piloting stage, so the number of people served is small. However, an early prototype oyster reef installed in the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge is enhancing fishing opportunities for thousands of annual visitors to the refuge.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
In the next three years, the living shorelines we will have constructed in support of the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan will be enhancing resilience for hundreds of thousands of coastal Louisiana residents, enhancing fishing opportunities and producing oyster larvae for the nations leading oyster fishery. The feasibility studies we've conducted will be informing resilience plans which will benefit millions of citizens in coastal cities throughout the country.
How our solution team is organized:
How many people work on our solution team:
How many years we have been working on our solution:
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Our team brings technical skills and experience in the fields of coastal engineering, public works, aquaculture, chemistry and automation. We are highly mission driven, and have had great success communicating a vision of what can happen when you do something that's never been done.
Our revenue model:
We are still exploring revenue models for the public private partnerships.
Unit economics for our biogenic coastal solutions indicate substantial cost benefits over conventional structures such as rubble mound breakwaters or seawalls. Our team has the experience to provide our solution on a project basis by acting as a general contractor.
Public investments in coastal habitats and protective infrastructure tend to be driven by post disaster government funding. Climate change, particularly sea level rise, is increasing the urgency with which coastal communities are considering protective infrastructure. Recently, the insurance industry has signaled that drastic premium increases may result from coastal risk scenarios. Regulatory pressure is increasing pushing smaller projects away from solutions such as bulkheads towards living shorelines.
The fundamental workings behind our biogenic coastal solutions are protected by patents.
Why we are applying to Solve:
We can build cool projects and make good margins by winning coastal restoration projects here and there. However, sustainable success and large scale impact will require coalitions of diverse stakeholders to come together in the communities where we will serve. The Solve contest will give us a platform to communicate our vision of a sustainable future to those stakeholders, and provide access to those stakeholders and influencers.
We are also hoping to communicate our vision to the best minds working in the fields of sensors, analytics, robotics and software in order to develop the best tools.
The key barriers for our solution:
A major barrier to large scale adoption of our solution is that biological parameters and structural designs will need to be adapted to the local estuary. This barrier is also an opportunity as those communities that buy into the vision can fund feasibility studies. Our hope is that Solve can help us build coalitions of stakeholders to develop local visions and pursue funding for feasibility studies.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers: