Technology and nature don't always go well together, but when it happens something good almost always comes out of it. This is the case of 3D printers that help fight coastal erosion due to rising sea levels.
A team of Australian scientists from Deakin University they are testing 3D printed, biodegradable structures to protect young mangrove plants and slow down the advance of the sea.
Coastal erosion: a serious headache
The main side effect of coastal erosion is that plants find it more difficult to take root on eroded coasts, further exacerbating the problem.
That's why the researchers have started a project that will take place over three years involving a large team, which will monitor the survival and growth of the mangroves. It's called "Regenerating Our Coasts".
Mangroves and 3D printing: how the synergy works
The 3D printed structures, made of potato starch sourced from industrial waste, are being placed at coastal locations in Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay. These structures slow down the flow of water and favor the accumulation of soil, especially in areas subject to coastal erosion or with difficult environmental conditions.
After creating the 3D printed structures in the Netherlands, Australian researchers insert mangrove seeds into them or place them in areas where the seeds have already been planted. The biodegradable structures will decompose over a period of time between two and ten years, giving the plants time to take root and do their job.
A sustainable (and ethical) future for our coasts
If the project is successful, coastal erosion won't be the only thing it faces: these biodegradable structures could be used in many other coastal areas and act as flood defences.
And they would create a large induced for research: the monitoring and the phases following the installation, in fact, would be taken care of by local research groups.
Because when something is designed well, it's good for everyone.