Technion University, University of Ben Gurion as well as Bar Ilan University are working on a 3D printing system that will help restore coral reefs around the world.
As a result of sustained coral reef degradation, this technology, which is being rolled at the coast of Eilat, will restore underwater ecosystem through the introduction of manufactured units into areas where the reefs cannot restore themselves.
Reefs across most parts of the world are slowly dwindling because of man-made and natural causes, mostly from climates change, chemicals, fishing with dynamite and invasive species of fish.
A small segment of the Great Barrier Reef, close to 30 percent, which is located at the Australian coast, has been destroyed by heatwaves between 2016 and 2017. Scientists believe that if the earth’s temperature continues to go up, almost every other remaining coral reef will disappear. This will affect other organisms since fish depend on the reefs to reproduce and for food.
3D printed Coral Reefs resemble natural Reefs because they are printed to mimic the shapes and contours of actual Reefs. Fish cannot tell the difference, and they often take to these Reefs to reproduce. This is an important measure because it will help grow the number of fish in our marine ecosystem.
The printers use bioactive plastics and polylactic acid to come up with artificial Reefs, which are then placed in strategic locations in water. The Reefs are then farmed with corals, which transforms them into natural ecosystems. These measures, in theory, will help to recruit endangered fish species in areas where Reefs are dwindling.
The research played around with colors, materials, and shapes to develop a design that would be planted along the coast of Israel. Already there are indicators showing that most species have a preference, so they accept some designs and reject others. The outcome of this project will help marine biologists understand the interaction between coral Reefs and their environment.