Image: Ken Lund

The swamps and marshes of coastal Louisiana are among the nation's most fragile and valuable wetlands, vital not only to recreational and agricultural interests but also the State's more than $1 billion per year seafood industry.       - U.S. Geological Survey

The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities.
— Peter Diamandis

Our project addresses two of the world's known problems with one creative and innovative solution. 

COASTAL EROSION

The Mississippi Delta is one of America's most threatened natural resources. The staggering annual losses of wetlands in Louisiana are caused by human activity as well as natural processes. Shoreline erosion in the state leads to the loss of marine habitats and estuaries and endangers local seafood production. The battle to stem these losses is prolonged, difficult, and costly. 

MINERAL WASTE

Refinery processes of minerals generate hazardous waste, including waste rock and waste muds. Red and brown muds are caustic and few secondary uses have been determined. We have partnered with local industrial plants and our geopolymers will utilize solid mineral wastes from industrial processes. Marine geopolymer concretes offer an opportunity to convert a variety of burdensome mineral waste streams into useful byproducts that enhance nature and fill a specific need. 

OUR PROPOSAL

Marine Gardens has initiated a collaboration with leaders in industry, business, technology, and mineral sciences. One of our proposals is to merge advances in geopolymers and 3D industrial concrete printing. We suggest that 3D Shotcrete printer technology and marine geopolymer concrete can be combined to create economical construction material for shoreline protection projects. We have proposed to design, build, and install a 500-ft. trapezoidal coastal erosion structure using a marine grade geopolymer concrete and a kenaf fiber matrix. A mountable 36-foot Shotcrete robotic arm, manufactured by Shotcrete Technologies Inc., could be installed on a Marsh Master II light-weight marsh buggy and would be used to form, print, and install a trapezoidal coastal erosion structure. The project would mix a low-cost marine geopolymer concrete formula using local minerals and soils at ambient conditions. Our goal is to demonstrate the use of geopolymers as superior construction materials for coastal erosion structures at a lower cost.

What are geopolymers?

Geopolymers are inorganic nano polymers, made from ordinary soils and industrial mineral waste streams and formed into new macromolecular structures, including concretes, ceramics, foams, and other materials. The creation process is based on well-proven sciences using an alumina silicate bond. They can be produced locally and are inert, non-porous, and fireproof. They have demonstrated adsorbent qualities, so they bind or entrap heavy metals, toxins, and even radioactive waste, putting them in an inert state. If properly mixed, they are not only environmentally safe, they are also substantially beneficial for the environment. The material is superior to Ordinary Portland Cement but can be worked in the same manner or can also be extruded or 3D printed.

KEY POINTS

  • 3D construction printing and GeoPolymer Materials Science are both exponential businesses that are experiencing rapid growth and are poised to disrupt other industries.
  • Is it safe? Marsh Armor consists of geopolymer composite stone, metal fiber, mineral fiber, and kenaf fiber materials to armor and to promote the growth of natural living habitats. Custom marine grade geopolymers should create reef abundance and will attract and enhance shellfish production.
  • The environmental benefits of substituting industrial waste minerals for virgin materials includes conserving energy, reducing the need to extract natural resources, and reducing demand for disposal facilities.
  • Is it efficient? 3D customizable printing can bring significant benefits to the construction industry in terms of increased customization, reduced construction time, reduced manpower (10-1), and building costs. The process also allows for quick and easy design changes and production can be automated via smartphone. 
  • At what cost? Printable marine geopolymer concrete armor from mineral waste streams is cheaper to produce and is superior in strength to limestone and ordinary concrete. The beneficial use of solid mineral waste involves identifying and using industrial mineral waste as a substitute for virgin mineral construction materials.
  • Our proposed project is easily transportable and can be used for shoreline protection or ridge building wherever needed. It can also be easily incorporated into existing projects.
  • Will it last? The durability and strength of marine grade geopolymers are unmatched. Covalent bonds protect materials and provide reinforcement from caustic materials and acids with high compressive strength and greater ductility than high-strength Portland cement. It can be set in as little as 90 minutes and can be applied underwater. It is non-porous, permanent, and will not dissolve. These materials are well-known in the oil and gas industry for plugging wells. Superior strength and rapid setting allows for substantial savings while reducing risks.