Researchers at the University of Miami (UM) are working on technology to make seawalls more durable, resilient and ecologically beneficial. The new seawall designs emphasize habitat development for corals and mangroves.
The researchers have already tested several materials and designs that they are now bringing to the sea in Miami. In contrast to traditional designs, the new seawall cap is not interlaced with steel. Glass fiber bars will replace the steel as a stronger, lighter and less corrosive choice. Steel’s tendency to rust will no longer be an issue in the new design.
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“Reinforcement with fiber polymers would completely take that problem away,” said UM associate professor Esber Andiroglu, one of the innovators in seawall design.
A switch from steel to glass fiber is just the beginning. Concrete, which has always been a primary material in most seawalls, significantly contributes to carbon emissions. Researchers say it is time to move away from the traditional concrete seawalls for more eco-friendly options.
“Concrete is pretty much the most used material in the world,” said Prannoy Suraneni, an assistant professor at UM. While some solutions could make concrete more durable, Suraneni explained that tackling resilience and environmental issues is more challenging.
Researchers have found that switching from traditional smooth walls to rugged ones could help improve the ecological benefits of the structures. Apparently, research shows that marine life prefers textured surfaces to smooth ones. Different concrete chemical compositions could also encourage marine life.
According to researchers, the pilot projects will also feature an antishock system to protect marine life. All sea walls being built will have a high pile of rocks at the bottom to protect creatures from waves that hit the walls.
“Think of it as an airbag. It dissipates the energy by allowing the water inside,” said Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos, an assistant professor at UM’s college of engineering.
Via Tampa Bay Times
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