ASBP is pleased to support lead project partner CCELL on ARMOUR (Artificial Reused Metal Offshore Underwater Reefs). The project has received funding via Innovate UK’s Circular Economy for SMEs competition, in collaboration with the NICER programme, a four-year £30 million investment from UKRI consisting of one hub and five specialist research centres aiming to grow the circular economy community through a significant programme of outreach and collaboration.
Over 3000 km of the UK's shoreline is experiencing erosion, causing millions of pounds of damage every year and threatening the livelihoods of coastal communities. At the same time, the UK is exporting more scrap steel than any other country in Europe, with over 5 million tonnes shipped offshore each year. Much of this scrap is unfit for reuse in many applications due to corrosion, deformation or other defects.
The Solution ARMOUR
The ARMOUR project aims to demonstrate how artificial reef structures could be produced from used steel that might otherwise go to waste. CCell Reefs are steel frames that are installed to protect eroding coastlines by causing waves to break before they reach the shore. A well-established electrolytic process is used to grow rock around the steel, protecting it and creatin g the backbone for a thriving marine ecosystem.
The UK is the biggest exporter of scrap metal in Europe, a large proportion of which is steel. ASBP are researching reused steel supply chains to assist project lead Ccell to asses opportunities to reuse steel from buildings as the base material for CCell reefs, reducing their cost whilst contributing to the circular economy in the UK.
More than one third of the world's coastlines, and 3000km of the UK's, are suffering from erosion as a result of climate change and urbanisation. Traditional "hard" approaches to coastal protection like breakwaters and sea walls are made from concrete and rock, which is unsustainable and expensive. They disrupt the coastal environment, feel the full force of the ocean, and degrade over time. In the UK, we have more coastline protected in this old-fashioned way than any other country in Europe.
CCell designs electrochemically grown artificial reefs that mimic the wave attenuation properties of natural coral reefs. They grow offshore and are submerged below the water surface where they reduce the impact of waves before they reach the shore.
The reefs are formed initially from lightweight steel structures, around which electrolysis causes rock to grow. These structures build themselves up over time using minerals extracted from the seawater itself, they can heal from damage, and they eventually form a self-sufficient long-lasting ecosystem that protects the shoreline behind it.
The reuse of metal in this way is theoretically feasible; there is no reason why it would not be conductive and strong enough to form the base of CCell reefs. This project aims to address two main challenges:
- First, to investigate how used steel performs electrochemically compared to new and determine any treatment that might be needed to achieve the best rock growth.
- Second,to research how the forming of reused steel into an appropriate reef shape might affect its strength and identify methods for creating a reef that is strong enough to carry out its coastal protection function.
CCell's vision is to install reefs across the UK that offer a more long-lasting and attractive coastal protection solution than traditional methods, reusing metals to make them as cost-effective and sustainable as possible.