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Nov 2, 2021

3D-printed calcium carbonate coral skeletons could help restore reefs

Posted by in category: materials

Living coral reefs consist of rigid porous “skeletons” inhabited by the tiny coral polyps that built them. A new research project aims to restore damaged reefs faster than ever, utilizing 3D-printed skeletons made of the same material as the real thing.

First of all, there have been other projects that attempted to encourage the regrowth of coral by placing artificial skeletons on existing reefs. In most cases, though, those skeletons were made of materials such as concrete or polymers.

This means that waterborne coral polyps arriving at the reef have had to secrete calcium carbonate onto the structures, in order to “make them their own.” Given that some corals grow at a rate of just a few millimeters per year, it can take quite a long time to rebuild reefs in this fashion.

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