PRESS RELEASE | Oceanit Partners with DARPA to Develop Innovative Technologies For Sea Level Rise Adaptation

Press Release, Technology
  • Oceanit is developing 3D printed biomimicry-inspired reefs in collaboration with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
  • Project CORAL (Carbon-negative Ocean Reef for Aquatic Life) will develop new environment-compatible methods and materials to save beaches and protect coastal communities
  • Sustainable, carbon-neutral/negative material alternatives will replace “gray” coastal infrastructure to foster reef regeneration and environmental diversity

May 2022, Honolulu, HI | Oceanit is developing carbon-negative concrete materials for use in sensitive coastal environments.  Dubbed “CORAL” (Carbon-negative Ocean Reef for Aquatic Life), Oceanit is partnering with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop this green building material in Hawaii to protect coastlines globally.  CORAL will enable engineered reef-mimicking structures that can mitigate coastal flooding, erosion, and storm damages that increasingly threaten coastal communities and infrastructure.

At 1:00 AM on February 28, a house along Oahu’s North Shore collapsed into the shore break.  No injuries were reported, but the home was lost, and debris washed out to sea.  This disaster was another stark warning that climate change is increasingly impacting coastal environments.  Seas are rising, beaches are disappearing, and structures are falling into the ocean. It’s clear that responsible climate adaptation must lean on science and technology, as well as innovative methods and materials, some of which may not yet exist.

Photo Credit: Hawaii News Now

Two types of solutions have been widely discussed. The first is relocating residents and businesses away from the coast, whether through government-coordinated managed retreat or government-imposed eminent domain.  While this approach may be possible in the long-term future, public policy has yet to take shape and economic resources for this costly endeavor are not defined.

The second solution, one that is ongoing at Oceanit, is environmentally responsible, science-based engineering.  In the past, engineered solutions were mostly “armoring”; structures built parallel to the shoreline, such as seawalls and revetments.  More recently, through better scientific understanding of the interaction between ocean and sand movements, projected climate phenomena, and dynamic benthic and environmental conditions, new methods like beach nourishment and specially designed groins are being combined to stabilize nearshore ocean habitats and shoreline properties over the long term.

Now, a new generation of engineering solutions is emerging. Oceanit is on the cutting edge of developing innovative technology that could stabilize beach-fronts and significantly reduce carbon impacts. Currently, many artificial reefs, along with coastal structures like seawalls, revetment and breakwaters, are constructed from traditional concrete.  While strong and durable, most concrete remains a very carbon-intensive material to produce.  Globally, concrete production accounts for 8% of humanity’s annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

In collaboration with DARPA, Oceanit’s CORAL can replace traditional coastal engineering materials with a sustainable, green building material – made in Hawaii – that can protect coastlines globally. The 3D-printable, AI-informed, Biomimicry-inspired reef can be designed to deploy more cost efficiently – transitioning from a digital twin to reality.

The novel material will be made from industrial waste byproducts that will be physically durable for use in energetic shoreline environments and textured to be compatible with and promote coral habitat growth.  CORAL will be chemically stable and inert so as to not leach contaminants into the marine environment.  By using industrial waste, Oceanit is doubling down on environmental impact – using calcium-rich waste and other industrial byproducts like ash, crushed glass, slag, and more.

With CORAL, Oceanit combines its ocean and coastal engineering experience with expertise in materials science, chemistry, nanotechnology, and biomimicry.  This Hawaii-based project Is on the cutting edge of developing new reefs that are carbon neutral, biomimetic inspired, and 3-D printed.  One day, CORAL will enable the installation of new reefs that will help to re-establish coastal habitat, increase coastal diversity, and protect beaches around the world.

About Oceanit

Oceanit, a “Mind to Market” company, creates disruptive technology from fundamental science and moves these technologies into the marketplace. With headquarters in Honolulu, Oceanit employs approximately 200 scientists, researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs in Hawai’i, California, Texas, Washington D.C., and beyond. Oceanit practices a proprietary discipline called ‘Intellectual Anarchy’ that reimagines innovation – empowering teams to break down traditional silos, transcend disciplines, and cross-pollinate ideas and expertise. Oceanit creates breakthrough ideas, insights, discoveries, and developments, and through spin-outs, corporate co-development partnerships, licensing, and direct manufacturing, Oceanit delivers the future.