Border Sessions Ocean Floor Engineering Lab

At the beginning of this year, we were invited as a CoralGardening by Border Sessions to participate in the 2018 Tech Culture Festival. It is a 4-day event that covers all kinds of social questions. This has a very wide range of nature, social abuses and the integration of new technology into society. Not only are the questions asked and presented; in 30 different labs an attempt is made to answer these questions with the participants with practical solutions.

Kick off van Border Sessions Labs
Kick off van Border Sessions Labs

CoralGardening has been asked to come up with challenges for the Ocean Floor Engineering Lab on June 15 th. You can say, right up our alley. During a meeting we did some preliminary efforts and Border Sessions started working on this. An important element of the labs is that there is a variation of specialists who actually come up with practical and realistic solutions. In addition, there are also several specialists per lab who give a small presentation as a starting point for the lab. These people must of course be found and invited.

Ultimately, three subjects were included in our lab. Introduced by WWF-NL the question of how they can construct economically justified oyster beds in the North Sea. These oyster beds have been greatly reduced by fishing and other causes. However, they have an important role in the ecosystem of the North Sea. With all the new wind farms, the WWF-NL sees a great opportunity to build new oyster beds between the windmills, protected from fishing. The question here is how to do that without huge amounts in subsidies.

CoralGardening has submitted two questions. First, how can 3D-printing be used when making artificial reefs. Secondly, the question of whether a portable lab, think of one suitcase, can be developed with which coral can be cultivated on the basis of sexual reproduction.

The lab started with three presentations, one of our own chairman, Frank van Klaveren, about CoralGardening, corals in general and what the problems are and what solutions are needed. Next came Enrico Dini, an Italian who developed a 3D-printer that can be used to print complete houses with simple materials such as sand and clay. Finally, Michaël Laterveer, a Dutchman who has developed a professional coral breeding lab for dredging company Van Oort, presented.

Iedereen luistert geboeid naar Michaël lezing over koraal kweken.

Everyone listens eagerly to Michaël’s lecture on coral breeding.

Enrico vertelt zijn bijzonder verhaal over zijn 3d-printer

Enrico tells his special story about his 3D-printer

3D-printing and artificial reefs, how to combine that? The group that was working on this soon came to the conclusion that actually printing components would be too slow, cumbersome and above all expensive. But the advantage of a bunch of expert creatives together is that alternatives soon come. In the end it was decided to make molds for concrete elements. The added value of 3D-printing here is that you can create a large variety of complex templates. This allows you to guarantee that there are sufficient holes and angles in which coral and the associated fish can shelter well. An ingenious building process has also been devised with which various elements can be transformed into a complete reef. By not making these elements too big they can be placed by a single diver. This makes it very easy to let visitors help build a reef. After all, many hands make light work.

3D-printen van een rif is nog een hele uitdaging

3D printing of a reef is still quite a challenge

A portable lab for growing coral for a low price. This was the subject that appealed to me the most. Although I had my doubts because the lab developed by Michaël consists of three sea containers and costs a million euros. Great was therefore my relief when I asked if our wishes were possible Michaël answered with a certain “Yes of course”. Ultimately, the question is how ambitious your objectives are. At Van Oort this was a very large scale and guaranteed success in one go since the time span of a project must be as short as possible. If you are satisfied with a smaller scale and a chance of failure, then the requirements are immediately made a lot easier. Eventually we divided it into a framework, or all things that can be put together with local materials and labor. Think of the breeding basins and a roof for sufficient shade and some of that kind of thing. And for the lab itself you need a water pump with water filter system, an air pump for oxygen supply and the necessary measuring equipment such as temperature, acidity meter, oxygen meter, etc. All in all, pretty easy to design. My goal now is to look for a university or college that wants to make a student project here and then actually have a suitcase ready for our project in Indonesia.

Hoe zou een mobiel koraal lab er uit moeten zien?

What should a mobile coral lab look like?

Samenvatting van nieuwe ideeën voor oesterbanken tussen windmolen.

Summary of new ideas for oyster beds between windmills.

To be continued,


Arjan Blaauw